By: Mary Beth Adduci, Executive Creative Director
This year’s 3% Conference theme “BRING IT!” was promised to make a concerted effort to bring men into the fold, include them in the conversation and counsel them on avoiding the dreaded misogynist faux pas.
I waffled between the feelings of wanting to support more men being included and worrying that their participation was going to take up valuable seats and prohibit more women from attending. I had planned a whole blog on how it was going to affect The 3% Conference and my predictions for the future.
And then BAM everything changed when, at the end of Day 1, founder Kat Gordon presented Golin chief creative officer, Caroline Dettman with the Three Cheers Award for furthering diversity in our industry through the #HaveHerBack initiative. The next day, she was called out again in a heart-wrenching thank you letter from a female creative who was blacklisted for publishing her experience with sexual harassment in the industry. The woman singled out Caroline as the person who gave her the lift she needed to believe in herself and get her career back on track again.
It made me realize that The 3% Conference is much greater than the sum of its parts.
That there will always be issues to discuss regarding gender equality, that there will always be pros and cons about any changes or adjustments made to the conference, that none of us alone will ever have all of the answers to everything that we face. But what The 3% Conference is really all about is finding the inspiring people who dare to change the landscape and to give them a chance to share their talent.
3% is really about the people who push us to do better, trailblaze and actually do the legwork. That’s why it’s so amazing to see recognition on the stage that’s come to represent the who’s who in gender equality.
It also meant something personal to me as I’m a recipient of the #haveherback philosophy. After spending 20+ years in advertising, working on countless new business pitches in offices around the world; managing some of the biggest brands on the globe; and overseeing dozens of creative teams as they navigated from traditional media to a digital and social world, I felt unappreciated, underpaid and overworked. I was done.
So, my creative partner Karin Rose and I embarked on a what we called a “freedom journey,” which is just a fancy way of saying freelance. We made our own decisions and took our career and workload into our own hands. What it didn’t give us was a champion… and anyone who’s ever worked in a creative role knows that you need a champion in your corner to help make your work seen.
Eventually we started to feel a way we hadn’t felt in a while about our industry… excited and valued. So, Karin and I leapt back into the world of creating ideas for another brand: Golin. While it’s only been five months in at Golin, and we’ve touched countless clients and pitches, we still feel very much like honeymooners. Energized and excited by this new chapter in our careers.
On Friday evening, Kat Gordon took the stage again to unveil a founding class of agencies that took the #3percentpayequitypledge – and Golin was the only public relations agency on the stage. Although it was exciting to see my employer at the forefront of this movement, it was eye-opening to not see any other PR shops taking that stand with us.
By the end of Friday, I came to terms with the feelings I juggled walking into the conference. It’s not about having more men attending in lieu of women… it’s about MORE people attending overall, regardless of race, gender, etc. For the amount of work hours that we devote to inspiring our clients with ideas to better their companies and brands, it’s critical that we invest some of that same energy into our own industry.
Let’s face it, execs, account managers, creatives and the like, our industry is far from perfect – it’s time to get to work.