In a continuing drive for greater diversity and inclusion in marketing and advertising, a new feature by The Drum highlights conversations with top creative women in the industry.
All were nominated for The Drum’s global Woman of the Year award at The Drum Creative Awards, sponsored by Facebook, One Minute Briefs and in partnership with Creative Equals. The award is designed to push equality boundaries within the creative industry to spark discussion and action.
From icons and pioneers to prominent creative directors and designers, we asked each of them how diversity creates better work, the positive changes the industry can make, what keeps these creatives going in an ever-changing world and how greater diversity can grow the business.
This series will reveal more of The Drum's Creative Women over the next few weeks.
Today, we speak to Hallie Harris, Managing Director at Epic Signal.
From your experience and point of view, how does a more diverse creative team create better work? What have been some examples of that in action?
At Epic Signal, we want all of the campaigns we create to be authentic to both the brand and the audiences they target. Working with a more diverse creative team makes that experience significantly more successful. Over 55% of our team is female, and almost 20% are people of color, and that level of diversity is reflected in our eclectic client roster.
How are the conversations around creativity, and specific work/projects, different with a more gender-balanced team?
When you work with more gender-balanced creative teams, you allow voices that have not traditionally been heard in creative advertising (think the “Mad Men” stereotype) to influence and encourage a more empowered, more comprehensive end product.
Some agencies without this gender balance might be tempted to capitalize on traditional gender roles, but by hiring a team of men and women from a variety of backgrounds at Epic Signal, we ensure that we’re able to confidently produce creative that resonates with a diverse, intelligent audience and is grounded in real human truths.
What changes around inclusion should the entire industry embrace today?
Diversity has been misrepresented throughout advertising for decades, and that misrepresentation has also permeated advertising agency boardrooms. We need to change the creative advertisements themselves to cater to our nation’s most diverse generation in history (millennials), and we need to overhaul our recruiting efforts to embrace hiring talent that represents all different races, religions, and walks of life so that our industry makeup mirrors our advertising audience.
We are beginning to see increases in diversity at the entry and mid-levels, but that growth has been slower when it comes to the C-suite and positions of leadership. The more we can continue to drive positive change from the top down, the more we will see campaigns that truly speak to a more diverse audience.
With all of the issues women face in the creative sector, what keeps you in the industry?
The two main reasons I remain in the industry are my passion for the work itself, and the opportunities that I have to lead and mentor others. I’m passionate about progress in the workplace and want to lead by example ensuring that all groups that have been traditionally excluded from creative advertising - women, especially - have a place in the industry, and can flourish in leadership positions.
We’ve fostered a culture where great ideas, hard work, dedication, and strategic thinking are valued above all else. It shouldn't, and it doesn't matter your gender.
Will greater diversity in the industry ultimately save/grow it?
The ad industry is massive and growing. In 2016, there was $206 billion spent in media, an increase of 6.1%. Part of that growth is due to the plethora of emerging opportunities, platforms and markets - social, VR, AR, mobile, influencer marketing, etc. It is unreasonable to believe that conformity within the workplace can provide enough unique insight and perspective into this changing landscape. Therefore, increasing the diversity of people, culture and thought within the industry is critical to help us stay relevant.
The Drum Creative Awards puts creativity back in the spotlight and flies the flag for creativity during the digital revolution. These global awards are open to advertising agencies, design consultancies, digital agencies, production companies, marketing agencies, PR and more.
To register your interest for 2018, go to the event website.
This years awards were sponsored by: Facebook Creative Shop and One Minute Brief and partnered with: Creative Equals.