Happy International Women’s Day everyone.
I’ve spent the last 48 hours stemming a terrifying flow of fluid from a 10yr old’s body. I’m tired but let’s not allow that to cloud our celebrations.
Let’s start again.
Happy International Women’s Day, Men. Because I’m writing this directly at you. To write it to the marvellous, engaged and inspiring women of my industry would be preaching to the converted.
Also, I’m sick of shouting into a wind tunnel. To ignore men from each of these conversations is to reduce the impact of our message, to row up the river using only my laptop as an oar.
You make up 93% of our industry’s decision makers. You earn the most money, hire the most staff and get to shape the industry in whatever way you see fit. You set the hours, decide what success looks like, determine who gets promoted, fill the all-male panels and enunciate our international creative voice.
When I talk to women about their space in the industry, I am talking exclusively to women. When I mock all-male line ups, I am congratulated exclusively by women. When I try (and fail) to set up industry task forces to support women, I am trying (and failing) with women, and only women.
Because unlike internships, and getting paid properly by clients, and eradicating free pitches; women in the industry doesn’t concern you. Do they?
Businesses with women at board level perform better. Female developers write better code. The children of working mothers are happier and more successful. Surely the fathers amongst you want the best for your babies? These three reasons alone should be enough to pique your interest. To encourage you to improve the numbers of women at a senior level.
If those reasons won’t jolt you into action what will? I know a lot of you. You tend to be lovely. I’m certain the majority of you would recoil if accused of sexism. But soz lads, the facts don’t lie.
There are still fewer women on FTSE 100 boards than there are men called John. Women are only now earning what you did in 2006 and only 3% of our own industry’s creative leaders identify as female.
As a women with a voice in the industry, I try hard to share my experiences, to support the women around me and devote my spare time to maintaining a female voice.
These articles don’t generate an income for the studio. Nor do the talks (I’ve never been paid for an industry talk). Nor does the informal mentorship or creation of support networks. I’m not an employee. If the studio isn’t profitable, I don’t take a wage. Every hour of my time has a pound sign hovering over it. Every hour I devote to improving the representation of women in the industry is a £ I don’t earn.
You have the money, the authority and (given the split of domestic chores most definitely in your favour) the time, to achieve everything we want with less hassle and in a much shorter time span.
I’m too busy running my own thing to chair the female task forces necessary to support women in the industry. You need to do it.
I don’t have time to talk for free. You need to identify members of your team who have the potential to make good public speakers. Then you need to direct a training budget and free time their way so they can go and speak in public.
You need to identify and support young female talent. Read their CVs, introduce them to your creative director buds, help them re-write their covering letters. Do this in your free time.
You need to educate yourself about the gender split of creative work. And actually about the feminist movement in general. So that you understand why calling a woman a ‘female designer’ is really bloody irritating.
Alter your algorithm. Follow more women. Engage in their conversations. Read their articles. Seek out political women and listen very hard to them, even when you don’t necessarily agree.
Recognise that there is a problem, that you are the cause of it and then use all that 97% extra power of yours to help us solve it.