The Truth About Women In Advertising

Although we have been seeing a rise in the number of women in advertising there have not been many women in leadership positions. According to the third annual Diversity Best Practices Inclusion Index, only 29% of senior leadership in advertising are female. What is even worse is that is less than there was the year before by 30%. IPA, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s research says that although there are more women in school for creative roles in advertising 89% of creative directors in the UK are men.

Not only are women not being promoted into higher positions but they are also still being paid less. In 2018, the worst gender pay gap in the advertising industry was 44.7% at JWT. Another aspect that is isolating women in the advertising industry is the high numbers of sexual harassment. In a survey by the #timeto initiative of 3,500 advertising employees 34% of the women had been harassed, the majority of them more than once. A quarter of the sample had been harassed six times or more. Overall businesses in the advertising industry are not taking the steps to create an environment that is accessible to women. Ali Hanan, a former creative at Ogilvy that is now the chief executive at Creative Equals says, “Women are often not invited to the pitch table . Their work is 10% less likely to be put forward for awards, and when it is, historically, the men have always been running the juries. Thanks to all this, 12% of creative women are thinking of leaving in the next couple of years.”

Another aspect that is disengaging women according to Hanan is the phrase and mindset in the advertising agency “you’re only as good as your last piece of work” which she says is “particularly unforgiving for those coming back after maternity leave.” Many women have said that when they come back from maternity leave they find that their work or job has been handed to a man.

How can we improve?

It is important to give women the same resources your other staff is getting. Carol Watson, senior director at Diversity Best Practice says that “The companies that do the best in terms of improving in diversity are much more intentional about providing access to the playbook and having a sponsor advocate for women and people of color.” 

Another way to help women in the industry is to have more representation of successful women. If you are a successful woman in advertising consider connecting with educators to guest lecture or mentor. Having someone to go to with questions and guidance can help younger women in their careers.If you have a leadership role it is your responsibility to do what you can to make a difference. One way you can do this is by mixing up your same-sex teams and consciously looking at how you interact with your employees.

Not only does making these changes create a good workplace culture but research states that companies that have executives landing in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to have above-average profitability.

What does McKay do?

Here at Mckay Advertising + Activation, we see the advantages of having a diverse working environment. Although the toilet seat is always left up in the office bathroom, 60% of employees at Mckay are women. We are also helping train future members of the advertising industry through our internship program which currently consists of all women.