Recently I discovered FaceApp an amazing app that within seconds can turn a profile picture into a variety of transformations. It’s pretty incredible. I was stunned by my picture transformation into a woman and how much it looked like a real person. This got me thinking about gender and whether, as a woman, (we’ll call her Trevina) I would have been able to achieve what I have done today.
Back in the day, agencies with disciplines like PR and sales promotion were where you’d find the most female employees in senior roles. In most ad agencies the senior employees were white males. Women had to consciously work even harder in these environments just to fit in; to be seen as an equal and to be heard. Client networking and entertainment was mostly done on golf days and other male-friendly pursuits that seemingly excluded female participation. Trevina wouldn’t have stood a chance. And yes, golf days still do happen. And yes people still, wrongly, feel that they are inclusive because some women do play golf and those who don’t can still go along for the jolly afterwards.
I was thinking about Trevina’s image in light of the current TimesUp and meToo movements. What would be her view on the past 30 years working in this industry? I’m pretty sure that it would be very different to mine, without even touching on race. The difference now, after 30 years, is that she might have the courage to actually speak up about it without being seen as aggressive, over-sensitive or a “troublemaker”.
We’re living in a time where gender equality is not just a hot topic but an action that every business must operate. The behaviours that have existed where people have felt marginalised because of their gender are being exposed and are slowly being erased with the aim of creating true equality. The things that were considered as “political correctness gone mad” or “not an issue here” are now considered as extremely important.
I asked the women in the agency to write a piece on gender equality in marketing and to share their feelings or experiences. No one in the agency has had the courage to step forward with written words, but some have shared past experiences. One example of this is when a female employee was told that men come up the ideas and women manage the projects. Now, if that doesn’t deserve a smack in the chops, I don’t know what does.
I know, as a man, that I’m not best placed to write about gender equality. However, thinking about what my career journey would have been like as Trevina has truly opened my eyes.