Barker Creative Director Sandi Harari Penned an Open Letter to Men in the Ad Industry

By Erik Oster 

diversity businessSo you think the news is all bad? Are you missing that rhetorical swing in your step? Need a little optimism with that pre-lunch coffee?

Barker creative director Sandi Harari published “An Open Letter to My Male Ad Industry Colleagues: 5 Things You Need to Do Now” in HuffPost yesterday.

In short, Harari thinks that maybe … just maybe … the ad industry has turned a corner on gender relations.


She then calls on men in the agency world to follow five general maxims when interacting with their female counterparts. They generally boil down to advocating for female colleagues and not being a jerk (or ask those co-workers to do the same).

The five points are: “Give Us Credit,” “Be An Advocate,” “Stop Making Us Feel Guilty,” “Respect Our Unique Management Style” and “Give Us The Mic.”

To the first point, Harari asks that men praise their female coworkers both to their faces and “behind their backs,” since “women underestimate their own natural talents” and aren’t as likely to sing their own praises as their male counterparts. This goes hand in hand with being an advocate for women in the industry, and Harari asks that men help counteract “the confidence gap” by speaking up on behalf of women who aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. In a survey released by 4A’s last year, around a third of female participants responded that they had been passed over for promotions or assignments due, at least in part, to their gender. So Harari’s argument has some research behind it.

For the next point, she cites a 3M study which found that “women on average are working longer and harder than men,” so maybe don’t make that working mom in your office feel guilty for leaving at 5:30. Women already “often feel guiltier than men and are hard-wired for empathy,” and you’re really not doing anyone any favors with the added pressure.

Contrary to some popular opinions, not everyone takes pride in being described as “harsh” or believes that acting like “more of a prick” (advice once given to Harari by a male co-worker) will help them scale the career ladder. So Harari asks that her colleagues—and, by extension, everyone in the business—respect the fact that different people have different management styles. And maybe those even work for them!

Finally, Harari calls on giving women in the office who may not be loud or outspoken more of a platform to voice their opinions and concerns. In the aforementioned 4A’s survey, 42 percent of women said that they had been left out of decision-making processes due to their gender.

She concludes on a hopeful note, stating that “We are moving in the right direction” … just not fast enough.