Faaez Samadi
Aug 3, 2016

Gender diversity: The debate is far from over

Kevin Roberts believes the debate about gender equality in the industry is 'over'. These APAC leaders beg to differ.

L-R: Morgan, Gage, Davey
L-R: Morgan, Gage, Davey

SINGAPORE - In light of the storm created by Saatchi & Saatchi executive chairman Kevin Roberts’ controversial statement that the debate on gender equality in the industry is “over”, we asked three female APAC leaders to share their thoughts on how gender diversity needs to be addressed. 

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Jane Morgan, managing director, Golin Hong Kong

I’ve been in situations where I have felt kept down as a woman in business, but have been in others where I’ve been actively encouraged and the environment has been supportive and inclusive. It boils down to personal choices, support systems and company culture.

If a woman, or man for that matter, chooses to focus on travel, family, health, whatever it may be, rather than reaching the top at this very minute, then their choice should be respected.  

Issues arise when a woman, or man, has expressed an interest in progressing their career and are not given the right direction and backing. Regardless if they have been with the company full time for several years, have taken time out and are returning, or are working part-time.

One of the reasons I recently moved to Golin is because 50 percent of its managing directors and 30 percent of the executive board are women. This can be attributed to opportunities, training, flexible working policies and culture.

As an industry we need to focus on making sure we have the right support systems to nurture our talent now and in the future. As their needs and desires change, so should we.

Emma Gage, strategy director, Flamingo Shanghai

It’s not about having quotas or lowering the bar, it’s just about making sure there’s a good balance and ensuring that you have a work force that is mixed enough to provide genuine insight for clients; whether it’s across genders, ethnicities, cultural contexts or backgrounds.  

Diversity surely makes for more interesting conversations and a more inspiring environment in which to work, doesn’t it?

The debate that’s happening now is a good one to have, but it starts to become less productive when it gets in to personal agendas or a men-bashing narrative.  

I’d rather we focus on the aspiration of genuine diversity, support the work that people like industry spokesperson Cindy Gallop are doing and for companies to think about practical ways to support women in advancing their careers.

Jessica Davey, CMO Asia-Pacific, McCann Worldgroup

The reality is that in today’s world, a great network needs to be made up of many voices, to accurately reflect the people, brands, clients and communities we work with.

Aside from the ethical and moral imperatives (which are the most important thing) it is actually good business. Our work is better, our culture stronger and our agency more successful when we represent and include diverse people and experiences.

As a senior female employee of McCann/IPG, I am very proud of the fact that over half of our senior leadership at IPG is female. The fact we have a leadership so publicly committed to diversity in all its forms played a large role in my decision to join McCann.

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