There is a picture from the 2017 Women’s March in London, following Trump’s inauguration, that is emblazoned, year-round, in my brain.
It is a photograph of a woman, about my mum’s age.
She stands calmly before the camera holding a placard which declares “I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit”.
The image reminds me that the journey is a long one.
It cautions that change is hard-won, can be incremental, and is sometimes washed away back with the tides. (Let’s not forget Trump signing the order on abortion policy, surrounded by grinning white male accomplices).
International Women’s Day, to me, is an annual opportunity to reflect, to continue the narrative and to plan action. And that feels as relevant for our industry as it is for the world.
We know that in advertising and marketing, women are well represented at junior and mid-level and that things are evening up (albeit slowly) at the C-suite level. We know that creating a spirit of sisterhood and teaching is key if we are to support and enable a new generation of smart women. We can also see many tactical moves being made by agencies to introduce equality, all of which are laudable.
I think, however, that IWD is also a chance, as an industry that prides itself on creativity of thought, to consider cultural change at a more fundamental level.
Our businesses exist within a capitalist growth model.
There is no getting away from that. Capitalism often bakes in the notion of ‘fight’: of a willingness to succeed at someone or something’s expense.
Agencies of course are no different.
Those who rise to the top often exhibit an approach that is associated with ‘being male’
But what if we were to adopt a new mindset, a shift to a new value system: to a universally held belief that no one wins unless everyone wins? Then we would see true diversification and development.
For me, IWD is a chance (not the only one, but an opportune moment) to present components of that new value system and to make the case that if we invest in it over time there is every chance that we all rise together.
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