Leveling The Playing Field

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Last month, women from the Draftfcb New York creative team took part in the “Let’s Make The Industry 50/50” photo shoot, an initiative launched by the Art Directors Club (ADC) which recognizes the many contributions of women in the creative industry. The ADC believes it is time to set the goal of reaching an equal level of participation for women and men in all facets of the ad business. That means upping the number of qualified women in senior positions. We are pleased to welcome Jen Larkin Kuzler, director of awards programs, Art Directors Club, as a guest blogger to share more about the purpose of this inspiring campaign.
 
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By Jen Larkin Kuzler, director of awards programs, Art Directors Club

Many who are familiar with the ADC and its history may know that the Art Directors Club was founded in 1920 with a vision of elevating and celebrating advertising and design with the same care and craftsmanship bestowed upon fine art. For many years, its membership was only open to men, and it wasn’t until 1942 that ADC admitted its first female member.

The “Let’s make the industry 50/50” initiative was founded by the ADC with the mission of making drastic and measurable changes as it pertains to the roles and participation of women within the creative industry. We believe it is time for all industry organizations, associations, award shows, company boards and groups to take action and set a goal of reaching an equal level of participation for both women and men – in their board rooms, on their juries, and in their speaker lineups. This idea was born out of conversations had by our Executive Director Ignacio Oreamuno, Cindy Gallop, Ale Lariu, Mandy Gilbert and myself about how we can really affect change in how we operate. The big idea is that by increasing the number of qualified women in senior positions in all facets of the creative communications industry, these fields will both flourish and lay a foundation for generations of female talent.

Despite the efforts and the great strides that have been made by women over the years, they do in fact remain grossly underrepresented in creative industries. We decided to call upon our community to help shed light on the talented, smart, remarkable female leaders, because they ARE out there. The greatest misconception is that they are not.

As the Director of Awards Programs, and in particular, the ADC’s almost 93-year-old Annual Awards competition, I have been personally committed to including stellar women (and in turn fostering a vital balance of men and women) on our juries since I took the position five years ago. I discovered that this was not an easy task. At first, finding candidates seemed mysteriously difficult. This was not because they don’t exist in the advertising, design, photography, illustration and the digital fields, but because they weren’t as obvious to uncover as their male counterparts. I found I had to dig, prod, and research where these women worked and where they made appearances – a simple Google search wasn’t doing it. I explored show jury lineups, industry speaker events and conference rosters, and found the same (few) names pop up. After some diligent homework and conversations with my friends and colleagues, and bending the ear of more than a few top creative minds, the names started to multiply. The next hurdle quickly became getting these women to commit to be involved in our juries and at our events. Many were simply too busy and didn’t have the time.

I think we are looking at a two-part process here: 1. Uncovering the individuals and 2. Getting them to say YES. As the committee has passionately discussed, this second step is harder than you think. Many women in leadership positions are reluctant to add another task to their already packed schedules and thus a vicious cycle ensues.

As part of the official launch, we gathered leading female creative in the NY area together in the ADC gallery for a picture – to serve as a testimony to our commitment. Shot by the incomparable Monte Isom (www.monteisom.com), we were pleased that nearly 150 women showed up (on pretty short notice), with many more writing, calling, and/or tweeting their support.

I am proud to report that our 50/50 founding committee consists of Samantha DiGennaro of DiGennaro Communications, Cindy Gallop of IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn, Mandy Gilbert, CEO of Creative Niche, and Alessandra Lariu of SheSays. And we have recently welcomed Gina Grillo of the Advertising Club as our newest member of the committee.

We look forward to the future, and hope you’ll join us.

Pleasesign the petition, spread the word and most importantly, get involved.

-Jen

To view behind the scenes photos of our Draftfcb New York colleagues at the shoot, visit the official Draftfcb Facebook page here.