A view from Christine Beardsell

The future of advertising depends on women (as well as men)

It's critical for the future of advertising and marketing that our industry promotes women to top jobs, writes Christine Beardsell, managing partner of content at...

I’m lucky to have joined a very progressive agency where half of the leadership team are women. It’s one of the things that appealed to me, alongside the diverse range of work.

However, I have been in the industry long enough to know there is quite a bit of work to be done when it comes to gender diversity in advertising. The reality is that there are still very few female creative directors compared to men. It’s simply not true that most women are happy to be where they are, as Kevin Roberts suggests.

My belief is that not only do there need to be more women in top roles across agency land, but that it is more critical than ever due to the changing nature of what advertising is and how it reaches audiences.

We no longer have the luxury as advertisers to sit in a room and decide what message we want to feed a captured TV audience. People are consuming media differently today and we need to be more clever than ever on how we reach them.

We need to make advertising more social, more editorial, more about value and content than about a message. We have always been smart at researching and using consumer insights to better understand audiences, but we now have search and social tools to truly listen online to what people need and want. This means new skill sets and thinking is needed as well.

What’s interesting about this shift is that while they haven’t been dominating creative agencies as traditional creatives – women have been leading the world on social media. They share more, they talk more and they even interact with brands more online and across social than men do.

So, women are exactly the types of talent you need at the creative helm thinking about how you reach new audiences.

I have experienced this personally over the years as the founder of multiple creative content marketing companies. I found that I was hiring more and more women simply because they innately understood the shift needed from creating ads to creating content and value for audiences.

They’re ex-bloggers. They’re writers from magazines and digital publications. They’re social media managers and social listing experts. But most importantly they think differently.

I was hiring more and more women simply because they innately understood the shift needed from creating ads to creating content and value for audiences.

What does this mean for the future make-up and need for diversity at creative agencies? As agencies need to shift from a more traditional mind-set to a blended mindset of advertising and content marketing, the demand for diversity is going to increase.

It is only the agencies that are happy with the status quo of pushing out ads (rather than engaging smartly with new platforms and audiences), which are going to keep their male dominated teams, and their work and advertising effectiveness in turn will suffer.

The best agencies – and the smartest — are realising it’s a new game out there. That advertising creativity has shifted, and that more than ever a mix of traditional advertising thinkers and new emerging talents will create the best work.

It just so happens that now the skill-sets this demands requires an equal blend of women and men at the top in order to do so.