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.