Seeing Is Believing: My First 3% Conference

Originally published on The 3% Conference Blog.

As an Argentine, I’d never thought much about The 3% Conference. And I certainly never thought I’d attend, until I was personally asked to do so. Conference founder Kat Gordon selected me to participate in a women’s creative leadership event hosted by Google.

The day before the conference began, I found myself at Google’s New York City headquarters, a brick-faced building located across the street from the famed Chelsea Market. The panel, Imposing Gender Quotas at Work: Is it a good thing or bad thing?, featured four women from around the world: myself—Emiliana Torrens, CEO, POSSIBLE Buenos Aires, Argentina; Bec Brideson, ECD, Venus Communications, Australia; Christina Gliha, Group Creative Director, Juniper Park/TBWA Toronto, Canada; Jureeporn Thaidumrong, Chief Creative Officer, Grey Advertising, Thailand; moderated by Cecelia Wogan-Silva, Global Director of Creative Agency Development, Google, San Francisco.

From the beginning, it was clear the panelists fell into two distinct categories. The women from Australia and Canada were absorbed and well-versed in the topic. They had statistics, experiences to share, and well-defined ideas about what needs to happen next. The creative director from Thailand and me? Not so much.

My Reality

Put simply, in our countries this is not a top-of-mind, pressing topic—at least not at an agency level. In Argentina, governments and private organizations—not private companies—are leading the fight on gender issues. For instance, Ni Una Menos (#NiUnaMenos)—which translates to “Not One Less”—is an organization that fights against femicide and in support of oft-unenforced laws protecting women from domestic and other violence. Last year, it became a trending topic that drew a protest of more than 300,000 people in Buenos Aires.

For companies and corporations—this includes agencies—economic stability is top of mind. In the Argentine creative world, we talk a lot about inflation, which is high but also unpredictable. We know prices are rising, yet it’s difficult to keep salaries balanced to the realities of the actual economic situation. 

That’s not to say, however, we don’t talk about inclusion and diversity. They are natural things that we do in order to get the best results for our clients. 

New Rules

Before attending The 3% Conference, I never consciously thought about whether we were hiring a woman, a Colombian, a man from Chile, or someone from India or Asia. I simply wanted creative people, and a team, who work well together. Research—and my experience—shows that such teams are often diverse, but we never explicitly made it a requirement.

The 3% Conference changed something for me. Being surrounded by so many talented women was both inspiring and shocking. And so I started thinking, clearly and consciously, about gender diversity.

I have to admit that during my 20-year advertising career, I’ve worked primarily with men. During client meetings, jury sessions, seminars, and even interviews—it’s mostly men. They may be polite, they may not make gender an issue (or they might), but the truth is the agency world does not have many women leaders. 

On my return flight, I had much time to think about how I might change the ratio. How could I inspire other women? Could I create a forum to discuss what it’s like to be a woman in advertising in Latin America? 

Por Muchas Mas

Arriving home inspired, I immediately set out to discuss the possibilities and opportunities with both my female and male colleagues. We collectively decided to create #PorMuchasMas (“for many more”), a movement that will help advertising women speak up for their rights and empower them to become leaders.

Though these are early days, we plan to promote the movement out of our Buenos Aires office and link to the already-trending #NiUnaMenos. The goal is to get more women involved as leaders—in our agencies, clients, and business world as a whole.

Though The 3% Conference is not yet well known in Latin America, I know it will make a difference. By starting the conversation, we’ve already begun to change the ratio. Little by little and step by step, we will make a difference.

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