In the past week, I think we turned a bit of a corner. It has been a big week of action and progress for women in business and in adland.
Britain’s biggest companies finally reached the target of having 25 per cent female directors, effectively doubling female representation on boards since 2011.
At 68.5 per cent, the employment rate for women is the highest level since records began.
The Confederation of British Industry appointed its first-ever female director-general.
The Institute of Directors has its first-ever female chairman.
Closer to home at Wacl, records were smashed for impact, for development of the talent pipeline and for fundraising. A massive £230,000 was raised in a year for Nabs, Alzheimer’s Society, Mind and the Future Leaders Award, contributing to a whopping £1.35million raised over ten years. The astonishing Sheryl Sandberg paid Wacl a visit and received a standing ovation for her barnstorming and deeply human Lean In appeal.
The conversation needs to include, encourage and celebrate the men who are helping to drive equality
We should celebrate this progress. We should continue to communicate that gender equality isn’t just good for women – it’s good for business, the economy and our standing on the world stage. We should motivate the next generation of millennials who simply have no truck with old-school, outdated and binary business models.
But if we want to accelerate our progress – and we must, as there is tons still to do – I reckon the past week has also shown us that the conversation needs to evolve to include, encourage and celebrate the men who get it and who are helping to drive equality. Tom Knox gets it: putting proper systems in place to monitor diversity and equality as part of his IPA "For Good" initiative. Nils Leonard gets it: thoughtful and witty at the 3% Conference on getting more women into creative departments. Robert Peston gets it: signing up more than a thousand inspiring Speakers for Schools, many from the Advertising Association’s recruitment drive. Mervyn Davies gets it: encouraging women on to boards and into senior roles. Vittorio Colao of Vodafone gets it: shaking up maternity leave provision globally.
In a week when women have grabbed the headlines, it’s this growing army of effective and cheerful "manbassadors" that can help drive accelerated change, building equality together, because it’s the right thing to do. There has never been a better time to lean in, ladies and gentlemen.
Cilla Snowball is the group chairman and chief executive of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, an honorary member of Wacl and a member of the Women’s Business Council