A major initiative to address sexual harassment and systemic inequality in the workplace has been launched by more than 180 female C-suite advertising agency leaders, who have partnered with Time's Up to form Time's Up/Advertising.
The executives come from a wide range of independent and holding company agencies, and include Wendy Clark, DDB Worldwide CEO; Colleen DeCourcy, Wieden & Kennedy Global CCO; Kirsten Flanik, BBDO New York CEO; Chloe Gottlieb, R/GA CCO; and Carla Serrano, Public Group chief strategy officer and Publicis New York CEO. All signatories, plus the group's open letter and mission can be viewed on timesupadvertising.com.
The letter begins, "Hey Sister, we know," and continues, "At the end of January, a small group of us came together to talk about what was going on in the industry and in our offices and what we could do about it. That long night turned into more meetups and phone calls, and hundreds of emails. Many hundreds of emails. Along the way we have grown from 14 women to 180."
The letter notes that "as women in senior leadership positions in advertising, we've agreed that we have the power to change this business we love until it looks more like the industry we want to lead. As leaders, it's on us to foster a workplace where people are challenged but still respected. Sexual harassment is not OK. Never. No exceptions. No amount of talent, missed cues, or being great in the room unchecks the No Sexual Harassment box."
Time's Up was launched Jan. 1 by women in the entertainment industry. Its Time's Up Legal Defense Fund was also started to help women who have been sexually harassed with legal funds.
Time's Up/Advertising says it hopes to drive new policies, practices and actions that address discrimination, harassment and abuse in the workplace with the goal to create a more diverse, balanced and accountable leadership.
The group plans on posting its progress on timesupadvertising.com, focusing on three main actions: Committing to creating solutions that work, starting with examining the processes and policies that it says have failed women; identifying and mentoring people who represent diversity across the board and are ready to become agency leaders; and adopting progressive agency training and education that brings this discussion and its solutions out into the open with our agencies.
To start, Time's Up/Advertising will hold community meetings on May 14 in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago in which all women in advertising are invited. The movement is also creating an online forum to engage women in other parts of the country, as well. "Our goal is real change. We think the best first step in this process is talking face to face with you," the letter reads.
Time's Up/Advertising will also raise funds for the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, which helps individuals with legal and PR costs who have experienced sexual harassment or related abuse in the workplace.