Cindy Gallop is an extremely impressive public speaker and the founder of a number of startups including IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn.tv.
She is also a former senior advertising executive, having spent many years in agencies including JWT London and rising up to become a director at BBH.
It’s that experience that makes her come back every year to speak at the 3% Conference, so-called because at the time it was founded just 3% of creative directors were women.
Gallop believes advertising businesses — and the wider business world — should be comprised of 50% females and 50% males. That should continue to management level, Gallop says. And she even goes as far as saying there should be a higher ratio of females to males. Doing so, Gallop says, would “manage out negative dynamics” like sexual harassment.
Speaking at the 3% Conference in London on Friday, Gallop gave an example from her own life as to why having a higher ratio of females in business may have stopped a nasty case of sexual harassment even happening in the first place.
A few years back at the biggest advertising event of the year — Cannes — Gallop was invited to an intimate dinner at a villa with lots of prominent industry people.
She was sat at the end of the table next to a man she didn’t know. Over the course of the dinner it became very obvious this gentleman was “extremely drunk.”
He began asking Gallop inappropriate questions. “I did what we do in these situations,” she said. That is, attempting to to laugh it off while hoping it wouldn’t head where she thought it was going.
Then he propositioned outright that they go back to one of their hotel rooms and have sex. Again, Gallop tried to be nice. She felt, given the stature of people in the room, she didn’t want to kick up a fuss and disrupt the entire occasion. She was also seated in an awkward position at the end of the table, where nobody was overhearing what was going on.
Gallop rebuffed the man’s advances and he became abusive and angry. At the time, she said she thought: “Wow, this is what virtually every young woman in the industry goes through, that men … never go through. It’s a fact of life in our industry.”
Afterwards Gallop made the person who invited the man aware of what had happened. Her host was horrified and ensured the man was a persona non grata going forward.
While it was a horrible experience to go through, Gallop said it emphasises the point that there should be more women in the workplace, particularly in prominent positions.
She told the 3% Conference audience in London on Friday: “In 50/50 male/female environments, men cease to regard us as a secretary, or girlfriend material. Because if you’re not used to working in a situation where women are treated as equals, that’s how you frame women in your mind. But if you have more women, it simply doesn’t. You can manage out more things in the industry simply by changing the ratio.”
She implored bosses to “think in numbers terms” when it comes to hiring women.
The argument to that kind of approach can sometimes be that women are simply just hired to meet a quota, rather than for their talent or suitability.
But Gallop has a response to that: “I hear a lot ‘I don’t want to be hired just because I’m a woman.’ Well, all around you are masses of mediocre creatives who got hired just because they were men. It’s not a problem. Get hired because you’re a women. Then in that position, you can demonstrate you are a shit hot creative talent.”
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