Women and Suffrage - An Inspiration for Advertising?
The Women’s Suffrage Centenary is a unique opportunity to celebrate a defining achievement in the history of civil right movements.
We owe grace to those pioneers who fought and then achieved their voting rights, opening the door to a universal vote, allowing other discriminated communities to bring their contributions to the table, at last.
History shows, over and again, that in societies where all partake in equality, progress is faster and more inclusive, allowing everyone to participate in higher levels of prosperity and well-being.
It is not by chance that Scandinavian countries, New Zealand and Canada (among others) lead the general and specific OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) rankings. These countries were also among the first to legislate in favour of the female vote.
Unfortunately, the same is not true for many other nations. But we cannot afford to wait another century for gender equality, inclusion and diversity to become universally recognised as the main drivers for more prosperous societies and – thus – individuals and families.
This is not to say that women are the only discriminated group, but they are certainly the statistically largest, and one that, once having achieved better positions in the labour market, generate significant positive impact in many other indicators defined by the UN as essential to the development of a fairer society.
What is the role of advertising, if any?
Apart from Hollywood, if there is any industry that has shaped the general perception of women’s role in society, it is advertising. For good and for bad.
In its efforts to reflect culture and better reach its audiences, advertising has, for decades, helped to perpetuate stereotypes and to create or maintain unconscious bias about what should or ought to be the roles of women and men.
In our time, the previous presents a unique opportunity for the ad industry to take a leading role, promoting the necessary change of paradigms.
In some cases, it already has, quite successfully.
For these occasional success stories to become structural, the industry must improve its efforts to hire the best possible talent - but now with this new perspective of inclusion and diversity in mind, and with special emphasis on the hiring of female creative talent, which is a long outstanding debt.
This will guarantee us to still be relevant for ever more complex, fragmented audiences and make certain that our clients and their products and services stay significant in people’s lives.
McCann Worldgroup shares this vision and has made it an integral part of its strategic mission. In Latin America we have created the Woman Leadership Council, which champions gender equality and career opportunities for women within the network
We want to create an inclusive work place, to develop and promote talent with a diverse business insight, always having meritocracy and complementarity in consideration.
According to our 30-market study ‘Truth about Global Brands’, 81% of respondents consider that brands have more power to change the world and improve their lives than their own governments.
This demonstrates the high expectations that people anywhere place on brands, and the potential power of advertising.
Thus, we must ask ourselves: what is the kind of advertising we want to create to help our client’s brands to be meaningful in people’s lives?
One that, by promoting gender equality and inclusion, is good for people, for society and – at the end of the day – very good for the business.
Maribel Vidal Giménez is VP, Head of Planning - McCann Santiago and President, Women Leadership Council - McCann World Group LATAM & Caribbean