Not to mention an industry storm.

Last week a very large comms agency proudly announced a group of hires in their creative department. The fact that they were all male didn’t ring alarm bells for them – which isn’t surprising because only a tiny percentage of women make up senior roles in creative departments. I think we are all aware of this now, if we weren’t already.

The media storm that has followed has been fierce. It’s an emotional issue and emotions have been riding high. I understand that, but I think it’s important as we move forward (and we must move forward) to remain balanced and be solution focused rather than pointing fingers.

The good thing that’s come out of this is that it’s raised a public industry debate on a topic that until now has been unacknowledged for the most part or given lip service at best. But I believe it’s bigger than just the creative department, which is where the centre of the storm currently is.

I’ve grown up in the ad business. My mother met my father at an ad agency … I have three brothers who all went into advertising. Personally, I’ve been in the business for over 30 years. That gives me a rather unique perspective as I grew up surrounded by men who were (forgive me bros) sometimes part of the problem. And I have seen the good and the bad.

I love this business. This industry. I think we have a lot to offer and I think we have incredible people. But, to paraphrase Justin Trudeau (God love him) … it’s 2015 and it’s time to change.

I’ve experienced and seen sexism but here’s the thing …some of the sexism I’ve experienced has been from women themselves. In fact, probably the most difficult boss I ever had was a woman – in Canada. And one of the best most supportive bosses I ever had was a man here in Australia.

In the past, women have had to become like men to rise to the top and many are threatened by other smart, strong women. Perhaps this comes from the fact that there are so few women in leadership roles? Perhaps they feel that if they allow another woman to grow it may be their head on the chopping block to make room?

One thing’s for certain though…. although this is an issue that directly affects one gender, it is not a gender issue. It’s an issue for us all. It affects the industry itself and it is both perpetrated and perpetuated by men and women alike.

I feel sorry for the guys in the picture that started this whole discussion. No doubt they were excited and proud of their new appointments and sadly this has now been tarnished.

So please let’s not make this about male bashing or ensuring there are enough token females in the industry. It’s not about that.

It’s about equality.
It’s about quality
It’s about time.
Because it’s 2015.

And stay tuned, because we’re going to do something about it.

Adrianne Nixon is the founder of Legends & Leaders.

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