Ad organisations address why women aren’t advancing in agencies and what can be done

Seventy-four percent of ad agency heads are males.
Ad women are currently being paid 12,000 £ ($24,911 AUD) for doing the same job as men.

These are the stats. Fortunately, a partnership between the UK’s Campaign, IPA and LIDA is working to change them through an annual Women of Tomorrow Awards, designed to identify female ad industry leaders of the future – according to a recent article.

So, what’s stopping women from advancing in Ad Land? This year, the organisations attempted to find out why: They created a film documenting industry men and women answering questions such as whether they’re freely ambitious at work or have ever asked for a pay raise. The answers revealed a sharp contrast in how each gender approaches their careers. For example, men reported asking for pay rises and promotions numerous times, versus the “once” or “never” instances among women. Evidence of low confidence, depleted ambition and the constant need to prove herself was also palpable, in the film.

The video launched the WOT Awards and a debate among a panel including Steve Vranakis, executive creative director at Google Creative Lab and Hannah Matthews, managing partner at Karmarama and former Woman of Tomorrow, among others. Many (including men) identified with the film’s women, and discussed potential solutions to the shortage of women and pay disparity in ad agencies. Some included developing benchmark salary ranges for job roles; being judged by the success of one’s team; and finding co-workers to champion female efforts.

So, why are ad women feeling this lack of self-confidence or ambition? Is it the negative connotation still associated with empowered women in business? Is it the media’s stereotypes of gender roles? Or is it truly the archaic existence of a ‘boys’ club’ mentality in Ad Land, causing women to feel unworthy or intimidated?

It may be a combination of all these factors. Regardless, we agree the stats need to change.

Equality, diversity and fair pay are the obvious reasons. But advertisers still need reminding that women account for the majority of household purchasing decisions and represent $27 trillion of the $35 trillion global economy. With the current agency model, this invaluable audience is still being misunderstood, if not ignored. Hiring more women in ad leadership and creative positions is integral to fuelling this emerging female economy: Doing so will transform the world from an economic and social standpoint, not to mention change how today’s women are viewed in society, based on false media portrayals.

To learn more about the importance of this issue and how your brand can benefit from the new female economy, contact us on (03) 9510 7000.