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Women share their stories of sexual harassment, discrimination & lack of support in advertising

A ‘confessions board’ compiled during Bloom’s first London conference has revealed a few of the ‘little secrets’ kept by the industry which included details of outright sexual harassment, long hours and discrimination.

The board was compiled in privacy during the day-long event in London with cards outlining problems the delegates had faced in their careers and then discussed by a panel at the end of the day and placed at the front of the audience for all to read.

The cards shone a light on unspoken problems faced by women, with one particularly shocking card having revealed a delegate’s meeting on the first day of a new job when a male boss asked in private when he and the new recruit would be sleeping together. Another said that they had recently found out they were being paid £20,000 a year less than a male colleague in a similar role.

Another card (pictured) read: "Being a single parent and the responsibilities it brings is exhausting. I shouldn't have to apologise for not meeting after 5pm, not going to the pub and evening events. But I do. And I do miss out. I have to leave here at 4pm so won't even know if you read this out."

Another stated: "My first boss told me he hired me because I'm pretty."

And another said: "I work too many hours and still feel it's not enough to achieve what is expected."

The ‘Bad Ass Women’ panel consisted of Spark Foundry UK chief executive Rachel Forde, Telegraph Media Group chief executive Nick Hugh, journalist Emma Sexton and was chaired by editor of the Guardian's Women in Leadership section, Harriet Minter.

Sinéad Gray, president of Bloom and social media director at Kindred explained to us how she felt about some of the confessions:

“Reading the confessions board at the end of BloomFest brought about a series of emotions. First shock, to see in black and white, the things that people are experiencing but don’t feel able to talk about. Then anger, that this kind of thing is still happening and then, maybe a little bit of hope...

“Hope because throughout the day at BloomFest, we had heard speakers urge for those experiencing or witnessing unfair, unjust or unacceptable behaviour to speak out about it and break the silence that protects the status quo. The events unfolding around #MeToo have been uncomfortable to witness, but they’ve also demonstrated that things can change.

“And we think that’s going to start happening more and more. People left BloomFest yesterday feeling empowered, emboldened, and with clear actions. If they had the courage to write down their confessions at the start of the day, hopefully they left feeling ready to talk about and tackle them.”

During the panel, Hugh promised to improve the gender pay gap and diversity numbers at the Telegraph Media Group having only been in position a few months.