Last night at Mia, we opened the conversation to ALL. The panel of men has been in the works at MPLS MadWomen since the start of the organization. No questions were off limits "”not even the tough ones"”for Moderator, Jessica Nordell. At times things were tense, maybe even awkward, and the panelists? Slightly sweaty. Ed Huerta-Margotta, Director of Talent Acquisition, Carmichael Lynch , Joe Cecere, President & Chief Creative Officer, Little + Co, Chris Lawrence, Director of Account Management, Fallon and Maxwell Twum, Assistant Account Executive, BBDO, opened up to the audience for candid conversation and insightful discussion at #TheManEvent that did not disappoint.
The hard truth is that it's 2016 and gender diversity is still a problem. If you don't believe it, open your eyes and look around your workplace. If you still don't see it, look outside of your workplace where the pay gap and leadership gap statistics will hit you like a ton of bricks. The good news is there is heightened awareness around these issues and people are talking about how to fix it. With the influence advertising has on culture, the industry plays an important role to help solve this epidemic.
The problem that I have is that it's still a problem. And progress is so damn slow.
Ed Huerta-Margotta of Carmichael Lynch, shared stories from his past experience when advertising offices were dominated by straight-white-men. With the exception of a few, the only gender diversity was the secretary. Unfortunately, Ed witnessed women who were being considered for employment hide the fact they were expecting due to fear it would jeopardize their chances. Today, companies that do acquire good talent, often fail to nurture and keep it.
It's the industry that needs to change, not the person.
Gender diversity is important for enhancing and morphing company culture. President & Chief Creative Officer, Little + Co, Joe Cecere shares how Little + Co tries to focus on acquiring talent based on diversity of thought, and the importance of "mind fit" as opposed to "culture fit". In an effort to control unconscious bias, there's a group interview process where multiple people assess value alignment of candidates with the company.
Flex the influence and change the culture.
Integrating modern families and parental responsibilities are often driving factors that take women out of the workforce, especially, in the advertising industry where long hours and high demands are common…not to mention those ugly statistics around the percentage of women in Creative Director roles. Chris Lawrence, Director of Account Management, Fallon, says keeping talent when experiencing a life-changing event, like becoming a parent, starts with a conversation. It's important to make sure that person knows they're supported and we're wiling to accommodate and help make hard decisions easier.
I'm thinking of what I can do today to help fix this.
So what happens today, when you want to talk about it, but you don't want to say the wrong thing? Maxwell Twum, of BBDO shared his frustration of being in the weeds of an industry and culture in need of change, but not knowing what to do to fix it. Sometimes intentions are in the right place, but you don't quite know how to execute. Asking questions on what's happening within the organization and what can be done is a great place to start. Don't be afraid to talk about gender diversity.
From the pay gap to the leadership gap, we need to continue the revolution. The road to gender equality is not an easy one, but it's an important one. Thank you to all of our panelists who were poked and prodded for answers. Thank you to our event partners, Mia and Acowsay Media. If you are a dude who came, shout-out to you too. It takes men in leadership to move women up the ranks.
/ written by Kim Miller