Diversity Drives Creativity, Which Equals Profitability
“I like blowing shit up,” is the war cry of Cindy Gallop, who gave the electrifying keynote at Sydney’s inaugural ‘3 Per Cent Conference’ on August 31.
Striding onto the stage in a black, zippered, cat suit and swinging her trademark blonde bob, she delivered her empowering manifesto in a British accent that could cut glass, including a few ceilings.
It was the finale to a day that began with the desultory facts that despite women making 80 per cent of all household purchasing decisions, only a fraction of them hold positions of power in the advertising industry.
Thanks to the work of the 3 per cent movement, which began revolutionising the American ad world six years ago, that ratio has crept up to around 15 per cent.
There’s certainly room for improvement in Australian workplaces, which are amongst the world’s most gender segregated, according to Jade Collins, co-founder of Femeconomy.
The conference showcased an impressive line-up of dynamic women striking out on their own, and thriving, not only in advertising, but also in recruitment, sport and business.
Among them was Georgie McEnroe, stand up comic and radio presenter turned business owner. Her business, Shebah is Australia’s first all-female ride share service for women and children. Launched on International Women’s day this year, Shebah almost broke the app store in its first 24 hours with a record number of downloads.
Georgie started Shebah after her husband left her with four small children and she needed to find a way to make a living.
“The name came to me in a dream. Queen Shebah challenged the traditional wisdom of King Solomon,” Georgie says.
Another kick-in-the-guts moment spurred Jane Evans to start her own content marketing company. Despite a stellar advertising career in Sydney, when Jane returned to the UK – she couldn’t get a job.
“I applied for around a hundred jobs and couldn’t get a look in. Being over 50, I realised I was invisible. So I started The Invizibles.”
These days, corporate clients are pushing back by demanding advertising agencies’ put women on their creative teams.
According to Anna Green from the Boston Consulting Group, companies with more female leaders are 15 per cent more profitable and report greater staff satisfaction and less fraud. In Nordic countries, which celebrate higher ratios of female leadership, there’s less violence against women.
Many conference delegates were impressed with the start up success stories about women who were told they couldn’t be Executive Creative Directors, so they left to start their own agencies.
Award-winning advertising creative, Kimmie Neidhardt returned to work after having her first child only to realise she would never get the top creative job as a director.
“So I quit and started BURD with Simone Brandse and we called ourselves Creative Directors. We don’t even have an office. We do great work and stop in time to pick up the kids from day care,” Neidhardt said.
The final word goes to the foremother of disruption, Cindy Gallop: “Homogeneity is the enemy of creativity. Diversity drives creativity, which drives profitability.”