Women in the Agency World

By: Autumn Elliot

            Today, we are living in a generation where a person’s gender matters more than it should. Each person faces obstacles while entering the job force, especially women. Founder and EDC of agency Red&Co, Mira Kaddoura discusses why the ad world needs more female founders, “According to Fast Company, nearly half of women dream of starting their own business but only 12 percent think it’s even possible, and an even smaller smidgen actually do it” (Kaddoura, 2018). Women need to have the resources and confidence to believe they can succeed in the agency world.

            Growing up, my mom stayed at home and my dad worked full-time. I didn’t think much of this, except it was my routine. Eventually as I began to grow up and learn all that the world truly has to offer, I knew I wanted to do something more. As a young female planning to soon enter the agency world, I am destined for obstacles. The agency industry is slowly evolving. Some agencies are beginning to give new mothers paid time off and equal pay as their male colleagues. If more women begin to take charge and open their own agencies, we can perpetuate these changes.

            I have always been inspired by female leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling and Michelle Obama who have each faced obstacles along their career journey but persevered. Worn is a strategy and design agency in New York City that helps brands build with a female perspective. Worn stood out to me because they are a team of women who have not let the obstacles of the agency world slow them down. The team is “100% committed to women’s success” by moving their way up to working with well-known clients like Colgate, Revlon and Planned Parenthood. (Worn, 2019).

            It is important to know the value of your colleagues’ and your worth in the advertising industry. Every human has something different to offer. A Forbes article recognizes the issues surrounding patriarchal run companies’ states, “Male-dominant creative agencies are missing a huge opportunity.” (Dockendorf, 2019). A key part of creative strategy is being able to think from the viewer’s perspective. Viewers are not going to be all male, female, black, white or any other simply defined demographic. One of the benefits of female leaders provide is said best in an AdAge article stating, “Female leaders tend to prioritize hiring people from a variety of colors, ethnicities and backgrounds, including working moms, nerds and introverts.” (Kaddoura, 2018). We are a society of mixed races and mixed culture, and creative agencies need to think diversely for their potential audience. Industry expert Taja Dockendorf points out common, damaging stereotypes about women being “catty” and “not-supportive” of each other in the workplace. Contrarily, men are known for being hardworking.

            Furthermore, the agency world is taking small steps towards working more females in the agency world. With agencies like Worn, Red&Co and Pulp+Wire, there are women leaving their footprint and taking a stand. To make a difference, not only females need to take a stand, but males must make an effort to include more women and their perspectives. “It’s time to call out brands for their role in changing the status quo – and getting the unconventional thinking they so desperately crave,” Kaddoura points out, signaling ways to seeing positive changes in the industry. Agencies who have been brave in their position to be different in the industry are entitled to more recognition because these are the agencies that are going in the right direction for the future of advertising. In my opinion, these are the agencies that will have greater longstanding success due to positively evolving within the modern world. I hope to be a productive advocate and addition to the industry in supporting more integration of women into higher roles.

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