Times are changing and, thankfully, so are attitudes in the workplace. From gender pay to sexual harassment (neither of which has ever been acceptable when spoken about openly) are now the centre of attention for many in the business community. That’s not just the advertising sector but, as usual, those working in advertising are trying to lead the charge in making a change.
There’s been a lot of criticism of the media for not naming and shaming more whose names have been connected to potential instances of sexual harassment.
The US has gone hard in naming and shaming, and while I see why, I do believe that education is always the start to a solution and that’s what this campaign offers, a better way forward. If more people working in the industry have a mirror held up to consider their own behaviour then there is more hope of changing mindsets for the future. I believe that greatly.
I applaud the shrewd timeTo creative campaign from Lucky Generals to promote this code of conduct. It offers different examples of language and situations that working professionals will recognise and shows, quite literally, where the line(s) might be drawn and acknowledging that line, while perhaps subjective, is incredibly important.
There is a rule in filmmaking - show, don’t tell. That could be true of how to make a more positive impact in changing behaviour but also mindsets as well.
You’ll see examples of The Drum doing that later this year having donated ad inventory to highlight the campaign alongside Digiday, Little Black Book, Marketing Week, Campaign and MediaTel, with Mediacom directing the media strategy.
Ahead of the launch of the campaign, a summit was held between trade bodies and the industry's leading publications at the offices of the Advertising Association to discuss just how to proceed in backing the campaign in the UK and globally. That, as far as I am aware, has never happened before.
The leaders of the timeTo initiative from within the AA, WACL and NABS were also present to show that this campaign isn't a one-off piece of work. It was a unique meeting and it was encouraging that those charged with reporting on and developing the collective industry in the UK showed belief enough to sound their views and their support for the cause. Pearl & Dean and ITV are also set to offer media space too.
Myself and The Drum’s brand editor, Jen Faull were also present in order that we could be a part of making this change.
The potential for timeTo is not just for the UK though. The guidelines could be adopted all around the world and have the potential to be taken up by other business professions as well. Perhaps advertising is where the change begins, but I would hope it certainly won’t end there.
So I urge companies not only to sign up (there are 114 signatures at the time of writing) but to read and share the guidelines. To hold company meetings to discuss what they relay and to watch the advertising campaign.
There’s a long way to go when it comes to changing behaviours but here there is now a written outline of what is expected when it comes to treating one another with respect. And that, surely, is no bad thing!
Stephen Lepitak is the editor of The Drum