Stop Asking Men about Gender Equality in Advertising

Saatchi’s former chairman Kevin Roberts

I’m sure anyone with half a foot in advertising has heard of the Saatchi gender scandal and how it all went down; their chairman, Kevin Roberts, claimed in an interview that gender discrimination wasn’t an issue anymore, and that moreover, women don’t aspire to lead people or businesses.

Fast forward a few days: Roberts apologizes and steps down.

The scandal has divided the ad land in two with reactions ranging from Yes! Finally we’re discussing and changing the status quo! to the classic outcry that people are too sensitive, and that this is an overreaction to what essentially are just words.

The problem I want to address is summed up very well by Cindy Gallop, an advertising maverick and champion in gender equality:

She might have referred to the advertising industry as a whole, but same goes for the ongoing discussion in the media.

The white man loop will not solve this for us.

So, why are we still asking white men in leadership positions about their experiences in gender equality?

We might think that the people in power can fix this, but this is not about their career, nor is it about their personal experience as instigators or by-standers to gender inequality.

Hence, it is not their question to answer.

I want to hear it from the women in advertising, instead: the leaders, the rookies, all of them. I’m sure my peers feel the same.

As women in the creative industry, it is time we take charge of the narrative.

I can only hope that by the time I get into the C-suite, I can confidently repurpose Roberts’ words and finally declare the problem gone.

But until then, ad men need to stop mansplaining the issue and let women take the center stage.