The Role of The Female Exec in Advertising

The current state of creative agency positions, continues to reflect a clear glass ceiling for women. More recently, the United States has made strides in improving equality for women, improving career opportunities and economic equality; ranking in the top ten countries in the World Economic Forum’s analysis of the Gender Gap Index. These improvements, however, do not reflect the workplace gender gap present, or growth opportunity for that matter, this holds especially true for women in creative executive positions. Adweek reported in 2015 that the percentage of women in executive creative roles still failed to surpass the 5% mark. While the Guardian, showed a figure closer to 3%. The initial report that stated this figure was done by a University of Texas graduate student in 2008, and mirrored again in 2013 to observe the results. In those five years, the number rose to 10%. This was largely due to an increase in women in the advertising workforce and increase in executive role opportunities. The second study, done by the founder of the 3% conference also showed the increase in awareness of women’s purchasing power as indicator of the increase. Women’s purchasing power accounts to nearly 73% of consumer product purchases, surpassing $25 trillion in spending worldwide. Although the past decade has seen over a 300% increase in women’s creative director positions, over 90% of women worldwide still feel underrepresented and frustrated with the way advertisements are directed towards them; a clear indicator of the level disassociation between advertisers and their consumers. Studies done with women who worked in advertising agencies, related their experience to that of the show “Mad Men”, where women are overlooked and misrepresented in a misogynistic, male-dominated workplace. I can say that I think there aren't more [women in executive roles] largely because a lot of agencies end up mirroring the clients, and the clients haven't necessarily turned over nearly as much.”, says Sarah Hofstetter, CEO of a digital advertising agency 360i responded to this in an interview with Forbes. Like the tech industry, the advertising culture has failed to diversify when it comes to gender. Hofstetter goes on to describe a few reasons why women fail to be promoted or fail to remain in the company; lack of visible women in cd positions, lack of mentorship, an environment that lacks sufficient support for mothers and women, to name a few. The 3% percent conference also provides a comprehensive list of things companies can do to improve their diversity and workplace culture; an audit aimed at tracking the benchmarks of diversity at different levels of management, introduce flexible work options as well as analyzing and supporting women’s equal pay and opportunity within the company, to name a few. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s study on Social & Demographic Trends: Women in Leadership, found these statistics to be true. Understanding, and acknowledging, factual data on a companies’ gender gaps is important. The culture of the workplace begins to change, with the embrace of underlying innumerable positive results that diversity brings. Proactively addressing these issues within the company is necessary to continued growth and success, to reiterate over 70% of all consumer decisions are made by women.