- Sexism runs rampant in the ad agency world, according to many women in the industry who spoke with The Guardian, some on condition of anonymity.
- The report, which details personal experiences of sexism and misogyny, comes in the aftermath of now-resigned Saatchi & Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts' comments on gender diversity in the agency world.
- In his comments, Roberts declared the debate over gender discrimination in the advertising world to be "over." Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference, which advocates for female talent and leadership at ad agencies, told the Guardian: “What made my blood boil was for him to speak on behalf of a demographic to which he doesn’t belong. To declare something solved when it doesn’t impact him personally was really regrettable.”
The problem of gender diversity — specifically, the lack thereof — at ad agencies has come once again into the spotlight in the last year after Roberts' recent comments, as well as a lawsuit alleging racial and sexual discrimination against the since-resigned CEO of the J. Walter Thompson agency.
Roberts' comments sparked a furor in the agency world after he dismissed the gender debate as being "over" and said women lacked the same "vertical ambition" as men. Before Roberts’ resigned, Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy announced his suspension in a statement: “It is for the gravity of these statements that Kevin Roberts has been asked to take a leave of absence from Publicis Groupe effective immediately.”
While the "Mad Men" days of Madison Avenue are over, few women hold leadership positions in the industry to this day — and many suffer from sexist practices in the workplace, according to the Guardian. About 50% of ad agency employees are female, but only 11.5% of agency creative directors are women, according to the 3% Conference, which was started in 2012 when that number was still only 3%.
“Every woman in advertising has her own story of some kind of harassment, sexism or some sort of inappropriate behaviour in the workplace … It’s a career killer,” Megan McGlynn, a freelance copywriter and founder of Girlsday, a Facebook group for women in the industry, told the Guardian.