An Open Letter to WACL - Prove your worth

A blog from The Drum's editor, Stephen Lepitak, covering reaction to events in media, social media, marketing, advertising and communications in general.

Ok WACL (Women in Advertising and Communications London) - here's a challenge. Make a difference. I dare you.

In recent weeks I have spoken to many outstanding professionals working within the marketing services industry who are outrageously smart, talented and have more right to be writing this than I do. But none of them feel welcomed by your association. In fact some have told me that they have tried to work with you only to feel looked down upon for not being top tier within their businesses.

I am not kidding.

They feel less-than-welcome having actively tried to be a part of your movement.

Several people have mentioned this problem independently to me recently which is why I am concerned.

What's worse to me is that this is a feeling that is not openly spoken about for fear that it causes them problems within their own careers. They feel intimidated with your very existence as a group. One young professional who attended an event even told me they felt belittled - and while I understand that you intend for the organisation to be aspirational - that response should concern you.

You'll notice that I haven't been gender specific when I referred to those 'professionals' who have quietly complained about your organisation. That's because men also feel that WACL is unapproachable. Perhaps deliberately - I'm not sure about that. I know I have had no communications with the organisation but am very much in agreement with their overall aim - women deserve to be better represented within the boardroom.

It's a disgrace that this is still a battle a long way from being won frankly.

However, I believe that overall this industry needs to find a way to be all encompassing - especially to the younger generation. We can no longer be about men, women, straight, gay, black or white, young or old, rich or poor. We need to discuss people. We need to employ people and we need to empower people across the board to do their best.

I don't write this as an attack on a single agenda, more a mindset. I hate attending events discussing the gender divide where women complain to women about the way women are treated. They are right - it's wrong. But the tactic is also wrong.

I've been to events where the audience has attacked the token man on a panel just for being a man. I've had funny looks for being a man just for asking a question at these events too. It's not all one way you know. And I conceded - these were not WACL events alone.

In my years working at The Drum I have heard many horror stories about bloke culture at the top, however I do believe there is a desire for change. Even if it is not as large a movement as it needs to be - It has to happen and anyone who thinks otherwise should be driven out of the business in my view as they are not serving their clients well unless they do expand their staff representation and grow internal viewpoints.

Now, I don't agree with hiring to fill a quota, I do however believe in hiring to extend a mind-set and marketing is the ultimate sector that has to do that in order to fulfil its basic mission of achieving widespread informed engagement.

So WACL, take a look at your values and think about what I have said. Forget the long dinners, they achieve very little other than self congratulation and external quiet ridicule. It's time to get your hands dirty and show the younger members of the industry you really do intend to make a difference. Male and female.

You can do something amazing if you do. I think so anyway.

I'd genuinely love to see you succeed and make a real difference and #changetheratio.

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