Addressing gender imbalances within agencies needs to come from the top down



If agencies are going to address gender imbalances with change needing to come from the top down, Clemenger Group Melbourne chairman Jim Moser has said.

Speaking at the Secrets of Agency Excellency conference in Melbourne on Tuesday on the topic of what does a successful modern agency business look like, Moser said of the lack of women in senior roles in agencies: “We have a lot more work to do and what I’ve learnt is that it takes an enormous amount of tenacity, effort and time, it has to be from the top down and you’re not going to get results overnight.

“It’s going to take years to get a pipeline of women moving into these management roles and then fill them.”

In May a study by Mumbrella found women make up just a quarter of creatives in creative agencies and 70 per cent of client facing roles. Communications Council figures claim women make up just 13.5 per cent of senior positions.

Moser explained when he moved to New Zealand as the CEO of the Clemenger Group New Zealand, there were “virtually no women in senior roles”.

“We made a conscious effort to promote women into executive teams. So if you look at our executive teams which tend to be 7 to 8 people across each of those 10 companies at least 30 to 40 per cent will be female,” he said.

“But it’s taken a huge effort and we’re very focused on developing those women to get into those positions.”

He continued by explaining the group’s gender diversity team established a few years ago which has a team of two men and five women.

“They’ve been tasked with one, doing the analysis of where we sit in terms of gender diversity, but to also then implement programs that are going to get women into senior management roles.”

Moser was joined on the panel by Cummins & Partners managing director Chris Jeffares, AJF Partnership founding partner Adam Francis and Atomic212 group CEO and managing partner Jason Dooris.

On the topic of the gender imbalances, Jeffares said when Cummins & Partners was founded there was an effort made to make some of the founding partners women, with Jeffares attributing some of the agency’s success to that decision.

“We just started in New York, we have a chairwoman [Mireille Guilianio], our president is female [Tiffany Coletti Titolo], 55 per cent of our agency is female and 50 per cent of our management is female,” he said.

“The greatest area in our business, and I think this is an industry thing, where there are real gender imbalances is actually in the creative area.

“Last week we announced we’d hired a national digital creative director, coming over from America, who is considered to be one of the greatest talents over there and is also female,” he said.

“You have to be focused on it because you do get an imbalance of gender and opinion. If females are involved in 80 per cent of all the decision making in the commercial world we live in I think you really need to change your organisational structure to bring those views in as well.”

AJF’s Francis said the agency has had a “massive focus” on the gender imbalance in the creative space.

“Our creative department would be very close to 30,40 per cent of women now. But it has taken a very conscious effort to seek and find women in the department,” he said.

Dooris as the only boss representing media agencies on the panel said Atomic212’s board “is about 40 per cent women”.

“When we started the business it was strategically advantageous to us to bring a lot of smart women who wanted to work 3 days a week, we have a lot of that in our business.

“It’s driven by your relationships with your clients and what they’re willing to work with,” he said when asked how the works within the business.

“I’ll focus on someone who’s gone off and had a baby and wants to work three days a week, it’s very hard to do that in a business. If the mum is willing on those days that she’s not in the business to consider how the business runs and if we’re willing to be flexible around her and make sure the tools are there for her to do that then it works really well.

“We’re trialling that in two parts of the business in leadership roles and it hasn’t been an issue for us so far.”

Miranda Ward


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