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Managing Marketing: The (in)Equality in Australian Advertising

Linden Deathe

This episode of Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Senior Consultant, Anton Buchner. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Linden Deathe is Senior Project Officer at Women’s Health Victoria. She shares her experience in leading the shEqual movement. Linden and Anton talk about the (in)Equality that exists in the Australian Advertising industry. They explore how to prevent and address gender inequality. Linden shares the research she has done that reveals how sexist advertising contributes to a culture of violence against women. And how more realistic and respectful portrayals of women and girls can help bring that culture to an end. It’s time for advertising to get equal.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Anton:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast, where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners. I’m Anton Buchner.

And today, I’m sitting down with Linden Deathe, Senior Project Officer at Women’s Health Victoria, and the SheEqual Project Manager. Welcome, Linden.

Linden:

Thank you.

Anton:

Lovely to have you here and lovely to have a chat about this really, really important topic, because we only met a couple of months ago now, when you and your team came to us at TrinityP3, and just wanted to have a bit of a perspective on the advertising landscape.

Linden:

Yeah, you’ve done some great work for us.

Anton:

Really, really interesting. And the more we’ve delved into it, the more it’s opened up more and more questions, so I thought this is going to be a great topic to explore as a podcast. And hopefully, our listeners will find it fascinating too.

Linden:

Yes, we find that that’s a common theme.

Anton:

Well, I’m a guy who came into the ad industry in the late eighties. So, I’ve seen a lot of ads and a lot of advertising, but what struck me is as change is starting, and you’re starting to get it, obviously, a bit of a shift in some of the dials, I personally still feel that we’re really at the tip of the iceberg.

Some of the discussion is quite grey. Some of the discussion is aiming to be very locked down and trying to get really clear standards on advertising. But the more we do that, the more I feel we’re just getting a little bit more out of control.

So, I’d love to hear more about the name ShEqual and what you’re doing with ShEqual and Women’s Health Victoria in helping change, I guess, attitudes in the advertising industry. But maybe you can tell us more about what are you doing and what do you stand for?

Linden:

Yeah, well, I will do my best to break it down. Well, ShEqual is a project, it’s a movement. We’re on a mission to raise awareness with the industry and with the public, and empower people to take action in shaping how women are depicted in the stories we tell and consume.

ShEqual is unique. I think in some efforts around this, too, that we work collaboratively with the advertising industry to make sure that women are represented more authentically, diverse, treated with respect in ads. And we’re also working on gender equality within the advertising workplace itself.

We have an amazing reference group that advise us and provide guidance on our work, which we do research. We are working on some campaigns, we’re doing training, awareness-raising. So, that’s a big part of it.

So yes, we’re guided by our reference group and we have great representatives from Adland, from Clemengers, OMD, Marmalade, Initiative, Venus Comms. And then we have The Shannon Company, HESTA, and RMIT.

And then work from the prevention of violence space from Our Watch and Respect Victoria and even the City of Melbourne. So, it’s quite a diverse group that brings their knowledge and insights and really helps to guide this project forward.

Women’s Health Victoria for our part, obviously, we sit outside the industry. So, we bring a health promotion and feminist approach to gender equality, and that’s our core business. And our partners know they can rely on us. But being outsiders, we’re aware that building trust with advertisers is a big part of this project and I’m really all about that, in managing those relationships and building that trust because that’s core to this that we are working together.

Anton:

It’s a big area, isn’t it? I think there’s a lot you mentioned there. So, if I can pick on a couple of themes, the gender equality, I’d say debate, but I guess divide is probably the best way of saying it. There’s been so much written about it.

I know we don’t want to talk too much about specific ads, but if we step back for a minute and go, yeah, let’s look at some of the output in the industry, I can remember ads like Ultra Tune and the Rubber Girls from years ago. And that was still going as a campaign and has been to Ad Standards, has come backwards, forwards, and allowed and not allowed.

We’ve seen ads taken off the TV for KFC. The boys staring through the window and the girl adjusting her bra and her top and things. So, there are still ads getting through.

But I guess for this discussion if we hone it down to how are these ads getting through and is it that sort of misogynistic male culture that needs to be broken down? Is it the creative industry not keeping up pace with where the world’s going, or are they trying to keep up, but it’s just a question of what’s PC and what’s allowable? And creative has always been about pushing the boundaries.

So, in all this discussion, where do you think we should start in landing? Is it purely a sexist gender debate?

Linden:

Well, there’s a lot in that to pick on those things. I mean, when we talk about ads getting through or not, and as advertising is self-regulated, there isn’t a body that you have to approve an ad before it gets put out there.

TV might have a rating system for when particular ads might be able to be shared on content, the kind of product that they’re putting out there, or the kind of movie trailers. So, there’s oversight when it comes to TV ads around time placements and ratings, but we don’t have that for ads that are put out, ads that are put out on the internet, ads that are put out on billboards.

So, it’s up to the advertisers to make those decisions. And we have the code of ethics from the AANA, but when it comes to it, ads are only brought in to be adjudicated with ad standards if people have been making a complaint, if there have been enough complaints that that’s brought forward.

So, that’s the check and balance system, it’s after the fact. So, the balancing, it’s not really a matter of, “how do these get through?” we have to go back into actually the people who are making the ads and the conversations and the process between the brands and the creatives in the agency level and in media and the strategy that’s being put together, and the decisions that are being made.

Anton:

Yeah. And you mentioned the research you’re doing, so I think maybe a part of this is getting some specific examples of what you’re finding in research, because it can be an industry where people generalise and say, “Oh, well, yeah, the majority seem to be doing a good thing,” but you’ve uncovered some really interesting research that when I started to look at that as well, I went, “Oh, those are really interesting numbers.” Can you share some of the outputs?

Linden:

Yeah. So, we started there at research because we wanted to know what the health impacts that say more sexist ads we’re having. And so, we looked at that and in looking at the research, we saw a link between sexist advertising and violence against women. So, that’s sort of a point of difference. And making that connection, there’s a lot of that in the cultural conversation now wanting to prevent violence against women, looking at the different ways that manifests in society.

So, we know that our research showed that every ad that shows women as sexualised and as objects on display, idealised, eroticised, domestic, generally living in the service of others are contributing to a cultural story that ties women’s values to the pleasure of men. And some of us say, do we call that the male gaze? So, a man is behind the camera looking and what he’s looking at is done by and for men.

So, we can see that in advertising. And we see that, and it can be really easy to see advertising even from 5, 10 years ago. I mean, that can be very strong. But we still see it today. That’s still happening. And it’s true that I had said that we don’t always/we’re not into naming and shaming ads, but the reason behind pulling it out, is it’s not just about one ad, it’s the cumulative impact of all the ads, and the 500 ads we see before breakfast.

And what we’re seeing, the impact on women, on men, on diverse people with that sort of cumulative story that they’re being told; that we’re still seeing within that are heavily shown to be domestic in ads, in the kitchen on Christmas Day, shopping for the school supplies or being sexy and seductive.

So, having these roles where they are the caregiver, or they are the sexual partner to the man, but sort of in that, where they are in relation to someone else versus in and of themselves. And then, of course, they become invisible as they age.

Anton:

So, just picking up on that, there’s a lot of that as well. It’s a topic that could go in a lot of different directions, but I think the really important point you mentioned was the male gaze and the male perspective because your research from what I read uncovered that there’s a majority of men in the workplace, there’s inequality in the workplace, whilst that’s another topic that’s been, I guess, challenged and is starting to get broken down.

Linden:

Absolutely.

Anton:

But the perspective of males, I guess, whether they’re shooting or they’re coming up with the idea, saying, well, this is acceptable. It seems to me as a male in the industry, looking at it going, “How do we start to break down that thinking?” Does it need stronger men to come out and start to go, “Actually, this is unacceptable?”

I know in other industries, yeah, men have come out and gone, “Come on, this is not the way we should be treating anybody, let alone a woman or let alone a minority group or whatever it may be.” Does your research delve into that?

Linden:

It’s powerful and effective when men come out and call things out, we know that. But also, women, I think when it comes to where we know our research shows that it’s not just men who might come up with these creative concepts. Yes, there are more men who are creative directors than there are women who are creative directors in advertising.

But the women who are creative directors or those creative teams where there are women may still be coming up with these concepts because it is an internalised narrative. They’re easy stereotypes. They’re sort of old tropes, easy connections. So, it’s actually not as simple as just like men do this and women don’t. Women can have a male gaze too.

It’s unfortunately not as black and white, it’s just a matter of putting more women in the room or actually bringing more perspectives in the room. And men can bring a different perspective and they can make changes.

People with disabilities and people with different cultural backgrounds and experiences in life. If you’re advertising wants to be authentic to the consumer, to bring in those different ideas, it doesn’t have to be that it’s only called out by men or by women.

Anton:

Yeah, I think that’s really interesting because that idea of we have stereotypes that consumers latch onto, that’s a whole area that needs to break down, doesn’t it? Because advertising does shape culture as you talked about. In some ways, it can lead to culture.

But what I think you’re saying there, is in some ways, it’s actually behind the cultural shift in saying we’ll just resort to some of these stereotypes to get our point across because more Australians will identify with them.

Linden:

It’s true. But I guess we don’t want to paint everyone with a broad stroke. I think we see some really innovative and great ads coming out there that are challenging gender stereotypes, that are bucking the trend. And they’re getting a lot of press and they’re winning awards and they are sort of at that forefront. And where there are ads that might be relying on old tropes and stereotypes they’re not at the cutting edge of that.

Anton:

Yeah. Or inherently sexist, but call a spade a spade, yeah.

Linden:

Yeah, they absolutely can be.

Anton:

Yeah, that’s interesting. And then I wonder whether your research, did it delve into anything around what is acceptable, like what do women want either for themselves and maybe men in viewing this equality? Did any of the research shine light on that?

Linden:

Yeah, I think we were looking at when consumers want products that will work for them and that the advertising is more reflective of them. So, we do know that consumers, they’ll be more likely to buy the product, there’ll be an uptake in purchasing power if they feel connected to the representation in the ad.

So, that might be a diversity of bodies. There’s not that sort of hyper-sexualised glossed over perfect image, people don’t connect to that. And we’re seeing an increase of being more aware of when they’re offered something different, the reaction is really strong.

Anton:

Yeah. I think that’s really good. And we’ve seen topics pop up and words like fem-vertising and sneaky sexism.

Linden:

Yeah. So, I think that’s one thing that we’ve looked at.… yes, there are quite a few people who are recognising that ads are changing. And sometimes, we have really great ads that are breaking down gender stereotypes and showing particularly women in diverse roles and not using old tropes and old stereotypes, and they’re really great.

But then there are some ads that appear to be doing that, but they’re still using the same old language where we have ads that are … the old way of doing ads, which is still happening today, is telling women what they need to do to eat better. So, if it’s how to look better for generally your man, it’s become a very straight hetero context, to be blemish-free and how to have silkier and shinier hair and all these things to make yourself more beautiful, more presentable, better in society from a very superficial standpoint.

Anton:

Yeah, it’s very much about appearance and outer.

Linden:

Yeah, about appearance or how to make your home better, all these things. But it’s also that you need to be better. And we’re seeing that fem-vertising, the analysis of ads there that are taking on having a feminist sort of approach, they appear on the surface there, sort of on that female empowerment, but they’re still actually at the heart of it just telling women what to do.

So, it may be an active-wear brand that is telling a woman that she can be anything and do anything. She just has to have courage and conviction and have strength, but you’re still treating the woman as vulnerable, not there, not arrived.

And what’s really powerful is when we compare it to the ads that are done for men, which are more about how the product is going to work for them, how it’s going to regulate sweat, how it’s going to be comfortable, how they can lift, or run in it. And it’s actually going to function. And the product for women is how it’s going to make them better.

So, when you step back and you take away the big inspirational music, we see that kind of disconnect in how men are being sold a male version of the product and how it’s going to work for their life, and how women are being sold a product that’s going to make them better.

Anton:

It’s almost like, yeah, patronising is a word that comes up.

Linden:

Yeah, and people don’t want to be told what to do. It’s very patronising.

Anton:

I wonder in all of this, the unconscious bias, whether that’s playing a part; because the world is changing, going a bit lateral here. We’ve seen things like P!nk step in and offer to pay fines for the Czech team, was it, or the Norwegian women’s handball team that was wearing longer active-wear and should have been told to wear bikinis and how disgusting that was, and saying you shouldn’t do that, disgraceful. And P!nk standing up and taking a stand.

And obviously, the mental health area was saying all sorts of things with the female gymnast and tennis players and people finally, just being authentic and laying their cards on the table. But I feel that was unconscious biased.

Linden:

They’re taking a big risk doing it. I think we’ve seen quite a few … I mean, this podcast could just be about what’s been happening at the Olympics.

Anton:

That’s amazing, isn’t it?

Linden:

Really, and sort of marketing around that. But you asked about unconscious bias and we never don’t have it. It’s unconscious and it always exists and it’s always there. So, I’ve run unconscious bias training in the past and we don’t have a quick fix just like in advertising, because it’s something you need to become aware of.

You need to really work on what might be unconscious for you to make it conscious. And only when we are making something conscious and we are really aware of our biases or preferences, where we’re making those little shortcuts in our brain, can we work on overcoming them.

And so, that’s a lot of what this work in ShEqual is doing. It’s not trying to vilify and saying, oh, the advertising industry is just so terribly sexist, but we are all living with these tropes, these stereotypes, these unconscious biases that are there, we are working for change. Some are doing it better than others.

And as you said I’ve been in the advertising industry through some of the most sexist of times like the eighties and the nineties and early ads and it is kind of shocking now to look at what was put forth in advertising. And that can be for so many of us that lived through that time and were influenced by it, it’s sort of status quo. It’s almost what you expect advertising to be. And we get really surprised when we see a different ad.

For example, I remember watching the television, I think it was only a couple of years ago. And the first time I ever saw a car ad where there was a woman driving the car and her male partner in the passenger seat; children, no children, I don’t remember. But she was the one driving the car because the traditional role was that the man would be driving the car … and I feel like that was just how they always were.

And it really stoked me. I can’t remember the type of car, but I remember thinking, “Oh my God, a woman was actually driving the car.” And that was probably only two years ago, was the first time I at least tuned in to notice that. That’s where we can make some changes and those gender stereotypes are subtle.

Anton:

It’s difficult though, isn’t it? Because that probably opens the discussion on whether you need quota systems, which probably most people who’re listening would start balking out a little bit, maybe as well, going, “Oh gosh, we don’t want it to be too structured.”

But how do you overcome that? Do you need to just show and say the car ad, a man driving once and then a woman driving the next time and then have your campaign run through different types of genders, maybe even different attitudes and opinions as well? And it’s not just gendered in buying a car.

Linden:

I think there are lots of strategies. I don’t think you need to have quotas for how many people are in ads. Like that doesn’t really make sense to me, and it could limit a creative process. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some little audit system of checking, like have you heard of the Bechdel test?

Anton:

Yes.

Linden:

Yeah. So, that’s looking at a movie and saying, is there more than one female character? Does she speak to the other female character? And is their conversation about something other than a man. Very simple kind of thing.

So, there can be that kind of check and balance tool. So, this is the concept, we’ve come up with… let’s just check it. Or if we’ve got a huge account and it’s a car company and we’re doing multiple different versions of this ad, are they all white and hetero-normative? And how much are we relying on full traditional gender stereotypes?

There are so many different things you could be focusing on, but there is a way to think you can just check and say, is this also going to connect with consumers? Is there a way to make this more interesting and push back against gender stereotypes and how women are represented.

Anton:

Yeah. I think you’re talking about when we started working with you as well about voiceovers. So, not necessarily just the visual, but the audio as well.

Linden:

Yeah, the majority of voiceovers in our research are male.

Anton:

Now, is it appropriate to have male voices? Or is that a divide that we need to conquer? I mean, I think that’s a really good point to look at and go, “Why is it?”

Linden:

Well, I think what you’re doing there is you’re going to ask yourself, what is our voiceover? Is it the voice of authority? Is that what we want to convey with our voiceover? And do we feel that a male voice is a voice of authority? And do we want to rewrite that kind of narrative because reinforcing male authority is something that can have harmful impacts.

It’s not that it’s wrong for men to have authority, but to be the main overarching voice of authority. If that is our go-to, we can challenge those things.

Anton:

Yeah, I think that’s a beautiful point. And I think people listening and certainly, conversations I have across the industry, there seems to be a lot of unconsciousness about this topic or this theme.

Linden:

But most people don’t really think about it, or they think about it in a really attacked way or a really concerned and defensive way. And that doesn’t help the conversation to attack. So, that’s why we’re trying to work with industry and not about attacking all the individual ads or saying, “Oh, this is so bad.”

Because there’s lots of people that go into making an ad and that are in that process. And for people to improve or look at ways of how can people think to speak up when they see something. Like, “Do we really want to shoot this? Or is this casting? Should we double think, like should we go back and check in?” Because that might be less expensive than having an ad pulled or panned later on.

So, I think we’re interested in that process of how people can have a voice, if it’s getting training, if it’s going and just learning about these things; these are things that need to be unpacked. They’re not easy.

Anton:

Yeah. And yeah, you’re right. You’ve got to work hard at it. Let’s explore this further. What are you doing? What are you doing to help change behaviour across the industry?

Linden:

When I came on the project, it was all about taking our research and making it something that can actually be digested and used by the advertising industry. So, we’ve done that through our website (shequal.com.au), and we break down the research in a non-researchy way and you can get the reports, we have those as well.

But breaking it down for people, we’re actually trying to digest it. We have our blog where we are talking about things like fem-vertising, breaking it down. We have a newsletter that goes out every month which was really a response from the industry saying, we think this is really important, but we’re struggling in identifying what ads might not be so good and what ads are good.

And so, in our newsletter, every month, we celebrate ads that we think are working towards equal, and we highlight some ads that still need to get real. That need to have another think about how they’re doing their representation; it could be sexualisation or stereotypes, or women are non-existent or don’t have speaking roles ─ just more of a prod of how we think we can do better on this.

And so, we have the newsletter, we have our website, we have our blog, we have training. So, we have a training on sexism and advertising, and we are about to launch a training on gender quality in the advertising workplace. We’re in the process of piloting that training.

Anton:

And who is the advertising for? Is that for the business leaders or the agency leaders or for the creative teams or for anyone?

Linden:

Well, we’ve designed it for everyone in the advertising industry in the process because we think there’s something to add. In fact, when we did the pilot of our sex and advertising training, we actually piloted it. Mostly, we’re connected to agency side, but they bring a brand, like bring a buddy to the training so they can start having those conversations about when is this happening from the marketing, on the brand side to the strategist within the agencies and the creatives and bring in that dialogue and looking at points of connection.

So, we’ve piloted on both sides. And I hope that’s continued to be a good model, but people can have the training individually or in-house.

Anton:

Part of the work we’re enjoying doing with you is helping get this into the industry. It’s such an important area to talk about. But again, you can talk and talk and talk versus actually getting action. And I think you’re at the point now of saying, let’s get this action. Let’s get the agency leaders (and that’s critical), some marketing leaders because they’re paying for the ads, and then the creative leaders, and I’m using creative in the broader sense ─ that could be production, that could be digital, that could be tech, that could be the creative directors or the creative teams.

But the creative involvement in the industry to lean forward into this and really start to either get involved in the training or get involved in the dialogue. But I don’t need to tell you that it takes a movement of people to start to … point to people and bring them along.

Linden:

Thank you. And we have the supporters, the people who are going to drive this like yourself, and we have some great champions within, people who say, this is really important, let’s get this engaged.

But we also want to be really approachable and engaged with people who are thinking, okay, I want to explore this, I want to learn more. I’m not feeling gung-ho, but I think that my personal experience in any kind of particular creative process, or even a strategy (I love problem-solving and strategy), is that barriers can provide an opportunity.

And versus thinking, oh, we’re not allowed to do this or we can’t do this, we can’t do that because we don’t have the same hard work. How can we make it better? What’s another way to think about this? What’s another way to strategise this? What’s going to resonate with our consumers, with our audience out there? And we see that the brands that are really taking this on are having a huge amount of success.

Anton:

Yeah. And we have seen some great advertising come out internationally and lately … is there anything internationally that you’re seeing that you’re going, wow, that’s a shining light example.

Linden:

I feel like so many that come out are international because these brands are so big, you have to think, oh, was that ad for Gillette, an Australian ad? Or was it an American ad or was it a UK ad.

There was definitely some really interesting ads around a lubrication brand in the UK that was trying to make things that are taboo around sex less so, and just sort of put it out there in a really fun and really inclusive way for lots of people… because it was all in their homes, I think, backgrounds of body types and representation. And it was a fun ad to watch.

Anton:

I think this is a topic around what is blatantly sexist and some products can lead towards that; whether that’s cars and it’s breaking down a bit like you talked about earlier. But beauty and beauty products and the expectation, fashion in some areas, maybe lingerie and underwear and other verticals; do you think it’s certain categories that are the issue or do you think it’s across the board.

Linden:

They have a challenge. They have a particular challenge. I think we have different kinds of challenges. So, cars, I would say, to me, that’s an easier category that you can break down gender stereotypes and associations. The trucks are for men or things like that. And that’s probably a relatively easier place you can get creative.

And then the brands and the industries that really are built up on making women more perfect, more beautiful, thinner, fitter, all those kinds of things, they have a particular kind of challenge because their products themselves, like the product and the whole way it’s been marketed, may lead to a particular way of viewing that it’s supposed to make women better, what we’re talking about.

That can very much either lead to the male gaze or leads into sort of a body shaming for women or that they have to get some level of perfection. And we have research around how that impacts mental health and how that impacts body dissatisfaction, eating disorders. We have lots of things. So, there’s that different level of baggage.

Now, that doesn’t mean that they can’t push through that and think creatively on how it is, but there is a way, and sometimes it might be imagining how would you do marketing if this was a product for men?

Anton:

Yeah, that’s a really good point.

Linden:

Maybe you can do that differently. We’ve seen the great one, I think it might’ve been Dove, had a shampoo ad for men where we see the babies, toddler on a father’s shoulders and the baby’s pulling at the dad’s hair. And the tagline is making your hair stronger for what life gives you. And it has this beautiful image of the father and his hair being pulled.

But at the same time, they will be running ads for women that are talking about their hair being shinier and glossier and more brilliant that way. So, I think that’s how you might market this in this format.

Anton:

Yeah, that sounds to me also getting far more real and authentic in advertising, which came from a very, maybe stylised also perfect world that is breaking down, but it’s almost get to the imperfection of life. It doesn’t need to look that glossy, it doesn’t matter so much about the appearance and the body shape or type. And almost to a degree, whether it is a man or a woman, show both.

Show one, but do it in a way that’s obviously not patronising but is really bringing out the need for the product in my life, as opposed to that product talking to me or at me, and putting me down.

Linden:

Yeah, I think we can just step back and ask those kinds of questions.

Anton:

They’re really good tips. I wonder also towards the end here, people who are working in a culture, because this is about a cultural shift in the advertising industry. If you’re working in a culture that’s challenging ─ I know it’s not for you to give advice on this, but what are your thoughts around how could people get in contact maybe with ShEqual or how can people get in contact and involved in the movement?

Linden:

Well, for getting involved with us, we have a pledge. Go to our website, take the pledge. It has suggested actions and the pledge of what you can do to make things more equal in advertising in your workplace. If you feel like you need the support and understanding of what these different issues are, what their impacts are, and how to make change, again, it’s getting on the website, getting involved that way.

Following us on Instagram and on LinkedIn. Our newsletters share these stories. When it comes to workplace culture, we are working in that area and we have some initiatives coming out, hopefully, in this next year, that are focusing particularly on the advertising workplace and how to make change within that. Learning more about it. It’s not an area that has been heavily studied.

There’s a lot that is not specifically around the advertising workplace. For example, if I can get into that, the work we’ve done with you, Anton, is to look at the different sizes of agencies that are out there. And we know that the workplace gender equality agency under the Workplace Gender Equality Act here in Australia, you have to report your stats, your demographics, things like that around gender breakdown, policies, things like that. But only if you have a staff of over a hundred.

So, we have data around advertising agencies for the really big agencies if you have over a hundred staff. But most agencies are well under a hundred, and we don’t have information. But that’s just the data stats, but there’s also getting the information on what’s it like to be within that culture?

We get a lot of anecdotal information and there are lots of initiatives that are trying to do work in this space. There’s the Women with Agency, Peggy’s List, VivaWomen, B&T has the Women in Media Awards. There’s also these conferences that are around inclusion and diversity. They might approach things broader than gender equality, which is great. You know, we celebrate all of those things. Gender equality is a part of it.

So, there’s actually a lot happening in the industry. There’s Fuck the Cupcakes, which is calling out sexism and misogyny in the workplace. And that started within the advertising industry. So, there’s quite a bit happening in there. And we are part of that and engaging in that space.

So, for people to speak out, if anyone is dealing with things that are difficult, if they’re facing violence or sexual harassment, there’s 1800RESPECT. If they have an employee assistance program to speak to them, depending on what state you’re in. If you’re in Victoria, there’s Victoria Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. You can make a complaint if you don’t have a perfect system for dealing with issues within the workplace.

And not everything is the high-end. We’re talking sexual assault. We’re talking also on smaller things, easy comments that are made, things that people aren’t aware of, but are said. And we need to be able to talk about it. We need to make it a space where we can say, “Hey when you said that thing, that wasn’t particularly great, it made me feel this way.”

And being able to build that kind of culture is healthy for everything, to be able to talk about mental health or racism, these things exist. We have to reckon with them and not get defensive every time they’re brought up.

Anton:

Yeah, spot on. And I can’t add more to that. I think anybody listening, whether male or female can get on board with this. It’s too important. As you say, it’s been imperfect. There’s not maybe one direction to go, but let’s all rally together, let’s make this a wave that’s impossible not to get on. We’re certainly behind it and thoroughly believe in it and we’ll make change. So, we look forward to seeing the next stages.

Linden:

I just want to encourage people that you may feel that you’re not the leader in your organisation. There may be something that you can do. Everybody can do something. It might be in your creative, it might be in your strategy. It might be in questions, it might be discussions that you have in your workplace.

But yes, engage with us. Check us out on social media, send us an email, come to the website, and we want to keep this conversation going.

Anton:

Awesome. Linden, really appreciate your time today. I know you’re busy. But I’d love to check in again, maybe in three to six months as well to see how things are starting to move in the industry.

Linden:

I look forward to that. Thanks, Anton.

Anton:

I appreciate it, thanks for your time. I’ve got one more question before we go.

Linden:

Okay.

Anton:

If you could pick one man or woman in the industry to sit down and have a really good eye-to-eye talk with, who would you choose?

Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media, and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley and special guests. Find all the episodes here

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    Anton is one of Australian's leading customer engagement consultants. With an eye for discovering greater marketing value and a love for listening to what customers are really saying about a brand. Anton has helped take global and local businesses including Microsoft, Nestlé, P&G, Gloria Jean's, Foxtel and American Express amongst others to the next level. Check out Anton's full bio here

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