Women in Advertising - Over 300% Increase

By Padmini Parthasarathy

The 3% Conference, the organization that has been championing women in the ad biz, is seeing a 315% increase. 

The organization just completed a study that determined female creative directors are on the rise. In fact, 11 percent of all creative directors who won awards in the "2013 Communication Arts Advertising Annual" are women, a more than three-fold increase from the initial 3 percent

This is a powerful example of how to change an industry. 

Kat Gordon, founder of an agency that specializes in marketing to women and the powerhouse behind the 3% Conference, finally got to say, "We need to change the name of our conference." 

Gordon told VITAMIN W, "I live in Silicon Valley and have watched Google and other tech companies take their lumps in the press lately around the publishing of their diversity numbers. I publicly want to state that I think this is a courageous and important step to reversing a damaging trend. Only in revealing where things are today can we improve upon them. Now that the numbers are public, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others have to answer to how they plan to improve things. I want the ad agency world to do the same."

Women control 73 percent of consumer purchasing and $20 trillion of the world’s annual consumer spending. There has been a fundamental disconnect between the brands and the consumers. In fact, it has been reported that 91 percent of women don’t think that advertisers understand their needs. The 3% number might explain why. 

Gordon has worked tirelessly to spread her message. Since founding the conference in 2012, she has hosted an annual two-day, 400-person event in San Francisco for women in advertising, and has done several multi-city North American tours. Big names like the 4A's, Adobe, the hive advertising, and Deutsch Advertising have linked up with the conference.

One global agency called POSSIBLE undertook a comprehensive audit of its four U.S. offices. Company President Martha Hiefield said, "As sponsors and avid supporters of the 3% conference, it seems only right that we know where we stand as an agency—for our clients and for our employees—so we can create the best work and the best place to work."

It determined that 15 percent of its creative directors are women, and proceeded to outline a plan to improve diversity in all its offices. Three percenters are now encouraging other agencies to participate in gender audits and the upcoming #WhatsYourNumber social media campaign to start changing those numbers.  

To #ChangeTheRatio, we have to #KnowTheRatio. The new report also stresses the importance of internal gender audits to determine the demographics of a company. Technology such as GenderGapGrader, which uses proper names to extract gender, and even LinkedIn are becoming sources to determine gender breakdowns more easily. This is a welcome development for all companies looking to increase diversity within their ranks. 


Image: 3% Conference