This past week on Facebook Beach at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, actress and activist Robin Wright and designer Karen Fowler, co-founders of Pour Les Femmes, and Nicole Esselen of Give Work, addressed a group of selected List members. Wright and Fowler shared their story about the mission and challenges of running a socially conscious sleepwear company that benefits women who have survived violence in war-torn Congo.
“It’s a sustainable brand, and it brings sustainable life to these women again,” as Wright described the ethos of Pour Les Femmes to Ad Age President and Publisher Josh Golden. “It’s about women helping women, hence ‘Pour Les Femmes,’ but it’s also about this hashtag we launched with: ‘Together we dream bigger.’”
The members of The List were moved and inspired by what Wright, Fowler and Esselen had to say.
“It's amazing what they're doing,” said List member George Felix, director of marketing, KFC Global. “The thing that stuck with me was Give Work. The idea that creating sustainable work is actually the key to longer term fixing the problems that they're facing in the Congo.”
“It's such an inspiring story,” said List member Natasha Maasri, creative director at The&Partnership. “I think [by using Pour Les Femmes as a model] not only for the project that we're working on ourselves [and] putting all these minds together, something is bound to happen.”
The members then updated each other on ongoing projects, discussed next steps and shared their thoughts on joining The List itself.
"I think we're all looking for purpose," said List member Meredith Guierriero, head of U.S. partnerships at Pinterest, after the meeting. "Bringing a group like this together, understanding how we can complement the expertise that [everyone] brings—and actually making a bigger impact—is pretty incredible."
“It feels very special to be a part of this,” agreed List member Monica Rustgi, vice president of marketing for Budweiser at Anheuser-Busch InBev. “I'm super excited to see where we take it. The toughest challenge will be getting on each other's schedules because we're all such busy people. But we have the right passionate people to figure this out. I have zero doubts that we're going to bring this to life in a compelling way."
Family leave policy is often an "under the radar" issue, as one List member described it, yet it’s one that many in the group feel should be at the forefront of any work environment.
"Parental leave is not the new ping pong table in the office," said Michael Rothman, a List member and CEO of Fatherly, a digital brand that provides news and expert resources for dads. "[Parental leave] is actually really meaningful to measurably improve the lives and ultimately productivity of employees."
Felix identified with that sentiment both professionally and personally. "Having had kids and gone through times when these types of policies really weren't in place ... I know [how] important it is for us to make the industry better, and recognizing where we can [improve] employees' lives," Felix said.
Members also remarked on how the industry’s family policies go beyond parental leave.
“I feel like we're in an industry that really doesn't consider the fact that there's life outside of the office or outside of what we do,” said Maasri, creative director at The&Partnership. “So I think that is very important to talk to people about being human.”
“The best employees are the ones that are happiest,” added Felix. “When we're happy and feel at peace at home, we can then dive into the things we're passionate about at work.”
The List will continue to meet regularly and work on various projects throughout the summer leading up to the next major gathering during Advertising Week New York in September.