Gender Equality: Start to Walk the Talk
Post-truth may have been the word of 2016, but for those of us in advertising, it was the year we had to be honest with ourselves. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the sexism and lack of diversity that permeate our industry. We cannot shrug off gender inequality as a cultural problem or try to alleviate our guilt with panel discussions and culture days. For an industry so dependent on its talent and its ability to connect with people, remaining idle on these issues is not only shameful – it’s stupid.
To be honest, I never feel I’m qualified to speak out about gender inequality. I’m certainly not perfect. But that’s just the point. It’s not a comfortable topic, particularly for us men. We have to be willing to admit our own unconscious bias – and maybe even some conscious ones – if we really want and believe in change.
I’ve always felt lucky to be working at DDB and to have a legacy to reflect on when questioning the way forward or when needing to find the courage of my convictions. It’s no surprise there was plenty of inspiration to pull from here, too. There is no better case study of the value of a diverse creative department than DDB’s. No bar graphs or revenue growth charts could ever map out what that mixed bag of streetwise creatives delivered.
Remember those guys who wrote “Why try harder?” for Avis, “You don’t have to be Jewish” for Levy’s, and came up with the ballsy “Lemon” headline for VW? Well, they were all female copywriters.
Of course, no woman was more of a pioneer than DDB’s longtime VP, Phyllis Robinson, who was our agency’s first copy chief as well as the first female copy chief in U.S. history. If Bill Bernbach can be called the father of modern advertising, Phyllis was most certainly our mother.