Group Creative Director Liz Paradise participated in the first-ever event for female creative directors, The 3% Conference, in San Francisco last week. Founded by Kat Gordon, who worked as a creative at several large agencies before starting her own agency, the sold-out conference discussed how to change the fact that only 3% of creative directors are represented by women in the advertising industry.
McKinney has long recognized the value of female creative leadership — today, 45% of the agency’s creative directors are women. Liz, who has worked at McKinney since 1991, lauds McKinney’s efforts. “McKinney is doing a great job,” she said. “I’ve always been treated like a creative person here, not a female creative person.”
Conference speakers and attendees “identified the things that women can do better, what we can do for ourselves and what we can do for each other,” said Liz. “By nature, women can be more passive than men, when what we really need to do is take responsibility and advocate for ourselves.” Liz and three other women spoke on a panel called “Is Birth the Death for CDs?” during a breakout session. Each approached the question from a different perspective, having had children at different stages of their careers.
Between speakers and panels, the conference’s Q&A time allowed attendees to talk with each other about topics they’ve been thinking about, and living through, for years. “It was the first time I’d been in a forum with folks with a variety of experiences who had the time and thoughtfulness to consider their answers,” said Liz.
Men also attended The 3% Conference, though Liz estimates that fewer than 10 were there. “We need to get men engaged in recognizing the value of having women lead creative because women control 85% of consumer spending and are, increasingly, our clients,” Liz explained. “Men need to make it happen, too.”
In the future, those behind The 3% Conference envision it eventually traveling from city to city. They also foresee a “brother conference” in 2014 that celebrates the men who prosper by understanding how to market to women with respect and honesty.