Thursday, March 17, 2016

Our Better Halves

I've mentioned this before but I am surrounded by women. My wife has three sisters. I have two daughters. And even my dog lacks a scrotal sac. I am officially the Mayor of Estrogenville.

Which is why it brought me great joy to see the seeds of change taking place around the world. Even in the cloistered Boy's Club we know as ad agencies.

There was a major bombshell dropped at one of my former employers, JWT, where the chief communications officer laid down some serious charges at the current chief executive officer. If these allegations prove to be true, the house that J. Walter built will be in need of some major remodelling.

Another former employer, TBWA Chiat/Day released a long form video documenting many of the obstacles women face in the workplace. They even held a well-attended conference in South Africa to shine a glaring light on the issues.

And there isn't a day that goes by that I don't witness the 3% 'ers and their ongoing efforts to recruit women into the field and smooth the way to top leadership positions.

Encouraging, right?

It is, except when you stop and consider how far we have to go.

In late night edit sessions or pauses between deadly focus groups or even wedged in the middle seats of Coach flights to Boise, I've heard the whispers, the rumors and the disgusting rumblings my female colleagues have had to endure.

None starker than the tale told to me about a dozen years ago, by a whip-smart account manager (and you know I don't throw that term around lightly) who recounted a late night big brass meeting with the client.

She and a feckless, high ranking agency executive (who shall remain nameless because anonymity is important) stumbled into a stately conference room populated with nothing but jowly white guys. At which point, perhaps still under the influence of a lunchtime cocktail -- or five -- this incredibly-compensated captain of industry leaned over to her and said...

"You know, if this were any other setting, you'd be expected to get up on the table and take your clothes off."

A broken moral compass? No, that's what passes for leadership and integrity these days.

Like I said, we have a long way to go.

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