Leadership roles for women in advertising

Astonishingly, there are no comprehensive numbers quantifying gender disparities in advertising, even if there’s a visible lack of women in senior roles.

“Without data you really can’t talk about the problem,” said Advertising Women of New York President-CEO Lynn Branigan. “Are we being successful? We can’t really say.”

That’s why AWNY commissioned research on the number of women in the industry. Its partners on the project are LinkedIn, the media entertainment practice at professional services firm EY and the U.S. chapter of The 30% Club, a group of business leaders working to increase women’s representation on S&P 500 boards to 30% by the end of 2020.

They plan to use the findings, which are due later this summer, to inform a new plan for the industry. The 4A’s is also conducting research on topics including how women are treated at agencies and the way ads portray them.

There are a few bright spots, if you can call them that. Across industries, women hold 23% of leadership posts at U.S. businesses, up from 21% a year earlier, according to a Grant Thornton report released in March. While that’s an increase, the report also pointed out that 31% of U.S. businesses have no women in senior management. Of the women in senior management roles, 11% are chief marketing officers, the report said.

In fact, women are better represented in the marketing suite than elsewhere within corporations. “About a third of marketing leadership is women,” said Caren Fleit, senior client partner and leader of the Global Marketing Center of Expertise at Korn Ferry. “That sounds low, and of course we’d like to see it be higher, but in actual fact it is higher than it is for CEOs, it’s higher than it is for CIOs, higher than it is for everything except for CHROs, which tends to be about 50/50 male/female.”

Creative conundrum

One of the biggest gaps seems to be in the creative department, a fact highlighted by The 3% Conference, named for an estimate of female creative directors when the group was formed. Its survey last fall, called “What Women Want,” found that women make up 46.4% of the advertising industry as whole but only 11% of creative directors. The movement, dedicated to supporting more female creative leadership in agencies, reached out to 328 women in both creative and non-creative roles for the survey, 60% of whom said their current employer falls below the 11% mark.

From Advertising Age, read more here.

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