Making the Case for Women Creative Directors

This article has been updated from it's original publication in Campaign US.

I wish I didn’t have to write this. Creative is creative, talent is talent—I believe that to my core and have built my life’s work around it. 

But something needs to change. 

I want to show the women on my creative team that they can reach the highest echelons of our industry.   

I want to prove that my agency supports diversity, in thought and idea and action. 

I want to make sure that my two daughters have a role model—both in their mom and in me—by ensuring that the working world they will enter into 20 years from now is one grounded in true equality.

All of which is why I would love to hire more women for open creative director roles to help us lead digital creative for one of the largest CPG companies in the U.S.

My “why” is driven first by a business need: women make 70-80% of all household purchasing decisions* (including—yep—CPG). Yet only 11.5% of creative directors in the U.S. are women**. While I would love to sift through a digital pile of 50/50 male and female portfolios to make a blind, “work-first” choice—I can’t. Because I don’t receive enough portfolios from women to ensure parity from the start of the search.

Know that I’m not in this search alone—I have the best recruiting talent in the business looking for skilled creative leaders to join our ranks. But time and time again, I am told, “Not many female candidates apply.”

Of course, relocation is an easy challenge factor, as we’re casting a wide, national net for this search (though, as a recent New York transplant, I can tell you that moving away is not as bad as you’ve been told it is). Flexible schedules, benefits, salary, brands—they all factor into accepting a new job. But if those factors were the only ones holding us back from an equally-gendered candidate pool, there would be a national decline in talent. And there’s only a national decline in one gender of that talent. And nope, guys, it’s not ours.

As it has so truthfully been said, “You cannot be what you cannot see.” Right now in our industry, women rarely see other women succeeding in leadership positions. Women often have to choose between work and home, and many leave the industry at the ACD level, not progressing further due to lack of support at their agencies and from the industry as a whole. This leaves the advertising world, specifically the creators of ads, bereft of the very gender that buys (most) everything we sell. 

At my agency, we have a new Women + Leadership initiative, sparked by our ongoing sponsorship of The 3% Conference. Women + Leadership intends to inspire a dialogue amongst our employees and foster an open forum where they can continue the conversation to create change. I’m confident that this initiative will lead to progress and increased diversity—both gender and overall—across our agency.

Recently, I’m proud to say, our POSSIBLE Cincinnati office promoted three exceptional women and one man to creative director roles, proving our commitment to diversity at the highest levels. But this move forward is really just the beginning of an old, and very big, problem.

So, here is my very public letter of intent: I am looking for more creative directors. And, for a better future for us all, I’m urging women candidates to apply.

*http://www.forbes.com/sites/bridgetbrennan/2015/01/21/top-10-things-everyone-should-know-about-women-consumers/  
**Per the Communication Arts Advertising Annual Report

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