By now, the advertising industry’s gender and diversity problem should come as no surprise. So it makes sense that agencies would jump on the opportunity to celebrate their female employees and their work on International Women’s Day. Some women and agencies hope to make a statement about the importance of the presence of women in the industry, and in executive positions, by completely disappearing from the workplace for the day.
It’s called A Day Without A Woman, and it’s part of a larger event organized by the same women behind the Women’s March on Washington. The idea is that women who are able to either take the day off from paid or unpaid labor, not spend money for a day or wear red to support the cause.
A Day Without A Woman caught on quickly and naturally made its way over to the advertising industry. Some agencies plan to have no women come into the office at all, while others have other ways of showing support for female employees.
Here’s how seven agencies plan to either take part in A Day Without A Women or support their employees searching for a way to participate in the events.
Two female creatives at 360i recognized that working at an ad agency in New York gave them a certain privilege that many women across the country may not be accustomed to. The two decided to pitch an idea to their agency that would give 360i staffers a chance to participate in the events of A Day Without A Woman, but also give a voice to those across the country that can’t take part in these events.
“That might be because they are unable to participate in the days events because if they choose to take the day and go march they aren’t going to get paid for that time off or they might not come back to a job. There are a lot of places that aren’t as fortunate as we are,” Abbey Klaassen, 360i’s CMO, said.
Earlier in the week 360i rolled out the #EqualVoices campaign. It’s essentially a website where any woman who is unable to march or strike can go and enter her name. She can also write a brief summary of why she isn’t able to protest. Then employees in the New York office can print signs with these stories and names and use them in the march taking place in New York.
WPP agency Brand Union interestingly relied on the men in its New York office to come up with a plan for International Women’s Day, and subsequently, A Day Without A Woman. With a staff in New York that is majority female, inviting women to take the day off was a bit of a risk, but would definitely highlight the crucial role women play at the agency. So, Brand Union has encouraged women to take the day off and rally or participate in A Day Without A Women however they would like.
“Generally it looks like 90 percent plus women will not be coming in tomorrow and 90 percent plus of the men will be coming in tomorrow to support the women who are not here and take care of anything that needs to be taken care of in the office in recognition of the contribution women make within the office,” Christina Falzano, NY managing director of Brand Union, said.
To prevent the women from needing to use a personal day in order to participate in A Day Without A Woman, many men in the office offered to give a woman in the office one of their own personal days so that she could take the day without worrying about losing one.
Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness
Over 50 percent of the Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness staff is comprised of women. The agency is asking all employees, men and women, to wear red. At noon on Wednesday the entire office plans to walkout, wearing red, to support the cause.
“We are asking people to make their best judgments. We are encouraging people to walk out at least from the noon to 1:00 p.m. time frame,” Victoria Summers, evp engagement strategy and analytics and Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, said.
As part of the walkout, employees will gather at a nearby park and “take a break and share with each other our experiences and start to recognize how strong we are together,” Summers added. That includes both women and men.
Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness has encouraged other Publicis Groupe agency’s to participate or conduct their own walkouts as well.
When the Women’s March on Washington took place earlier in the year, Huge arranged for employees from a number of its offices to spend the weekend in their D.C. office. After showing such support for the march, Huge once again has a plan to support its employees today.
The option to not come into work and partake in some kind of rally is on the table and for those that do come into work that day, Huge is encouraging those women to wear red. The agency will organize a photo shoot in the office to celebrate all the great work women do in the office.
Huge also plans to tap into its own design abilities to create an internal visual campaign. The agency has asked female designers across the agency to design Hs. One, by Julia Albuquerque, Carmen de Andrade and Beatriz Andrade, was inspired by a painting by Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral.
Earlier this year, Ogilvy announced a number of key new hires following news of a larger restructuring plan at the network. Additionally, by 2025 Ogilvy worldwide chairman and CEO John Seifert hopes to see gender balance in the agency’s top leadership positions.
Rather than taking time off today and taking women out of the equation, Ogilvy plans to celebrate the women it employs with its own internal global campaign, #BeBoldForChange.
The whole goal for Ogilvy is to celebrate the diverse staff the agency already has and uniting the team globally. “Being diverse is a huge issue for us, gender diversity is of paramount importance so we wanted to mark this day and really celebrate it,” Jennifer Risi, global chief communications officer, managing director, Ogilvy Media Influence, said.
First, the team filmed a number of influencer videos featuring prominent women at the company including Donna Pedro, Jennifer Risi and Jean-Rene Zetrenne. Ogilvy also reached out to women from Univision and the Women’s Forum for this series. Each woman answered the question, “How are you working to empower women today?” The videos will be posted on Instagram and Twitter throughout the day.
Goodby Silverstein & Partners
GS&P is giving employees, both men and women, the option to take the day off if they choose. For those who come into the office today, they’ll find all the windows in the agency painted red, the official color for A Day Without A Woman.
The agency also altered its website to read “A Day Without Women is a day without creativity,” to show the impact women have on the business.
Similar to what GS&P is planning for International Women’s Day, Heat also switched up its website. On the agency’s people page the images of all the female employees have been faded out and covered up with a Heat branded #DayWithoutAWoman logo and includes a backwards “E.”
Heat employees are encouraged to participate in an evening of service with Episcopal Community Services, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that provides shelter, jobs and more to those in need. Those who participate will stuff care packages for women in need.
David&Goliath is another agency doing a website makeover. For 24 hours the website will not show the agency’s clients and recent work, but instead will be a single page that reads “Without women, we’d have nothing.” After 10 seconds the website redirects people to the Women’s March on Washington homepage.
In support of A Day Without A Woman, Zambezi closed its office down for the day to “highlight the impact that women have on our society,” the agency said. By allowing both men and women to take the day off, the agency said it hopes to unite its employees in an effort to achieve equality.
Ustwo is another agency advocating for its women to take the day off from work. Men at the agency will come into the office and do their best to cover for the women employees.
“From my perspective, as an owner of the company, I want all women that work for us to feel like we encourage them to stand up for this,” Gianpiero Puleo, managing director and co-owner of ustwo, said.
At Eleven, the staff is celebrating the day with its own #BeBoldForChange campaign. The agency asked women how, in 2017, they will “be bold for change” and then turned those into posters. Today the posters will be placed all over the office. Eleven also got media vendors to donate 250 digital billboards across the country to feature some of the 22 posters.
SS+K is another agency doing a website makeover for the day. Today, on the agency’s people page all the images of women are blurred in honor of A Day Without A Woman. Again, the goal is to show how important women are to the overall organization.
“SS+K is a fierce advocate for equality and recognizes the vital role women play in our agency’s success…We have an army of men and women that proudly stand as advocates on a number of issues, so it was a no-brainer to evolve our site and stand in solidarity with our teammates participating in the strike,” Elisa Silva, SVP director of client services at SS+K, said.