‘It’s not about diversity it’s about humanity’: Cindy Gallop fires warning to all-male exec teams

Businesses that embrace diversity are set to make a “goddam shit-tonne of money” but “if you start any business today with an all-white male leadership team you will never own the future”, equality campaigner Cindy Gallop has warned the industry.

Cindy Gallop at Mumbrella360 this morning

Cindy Gallop at Mumbrella360 this morning

Opening the Mumbrella360 conference in Sydney today, Gallop, a former senior executive with ad agency BBH, counselled agency bosses: “Working with women and people of colour is uncomfortable because we are ‘other’. But out of that will come extraordinary insights and perspectives.”

Pointing to US stats around the spending power of women she added: “The new creativity is female informed, it allows the fact that new forms of creative product produces new insights.”

Gallop, who founded the Make Love Not Porn project, told the room the “hackneyed” idea that “sex sells” is not true in the way it is currently used, but said “there’s a huge opportunity for sex to sell through the female lens”.

Cindy Gallop presenting at Mumbrella360 2016

Cindy Gallop presenting at Mumbrella360 2016

In the session entitled ‘How Advertising Can Change the World’ Gallop admitted she does not “like the word ‘diversity'” saying she prefers to think of it as being about “humanity”, warning if the industry continues to perpetuate gender stereotypes it will continue to have a negative impact on society more widely.

“If women do not see the industry showcasing people like them, we do not feel welcome, we do not feel valued and wonder whether it’s even worth trying,” she said.

Gallop said “we have to change the numbers fast,” saying businesses need to “bulk buy” more diverse people into their organisations to change the ratio.

“Tokenism is useless, because the alien organism has to adapt to the culture around it,” she said.

“Two women is not enough. The optimum number of women on a board, leadership team, etc, is three or more. When you have three women and people of colour they feel more able to say how they feel because they feel like they are being supported.”

She added: “If you work as quickly as possible to get to a gender equal environment, you instantly manage out negative dynamics. You instantly manage out sexual harassment.”

cindy gallop 1 360

Her comments come just over a month after controversial former adman Neil French waded into the sexism in adland debate by suggesting that Gallup had embellished a story about a case of sexual harassment she’d experienced one year at Cannes.

Addressing the reasons women struggle to get a foothold, particularly in the creative industry, Gallop pointed to the “white guys” at the top of organisations who struggle to see themselves in female candidates, but find it easier to see the potential in men like them.

And taking aim at the argument that by employing people other than white men you are putting standards at risk, she said: “When you say ‘it’s all about the work’ what you’re implying is the only people capable of great creativity are white men, and women and people of colour are inferior.”

She added:

Men immediately go for the ‘oh my god, standards will fall’ argument. No they won’t. Diversity raises the bar, it doesn’t lower the bar.”

Gallop also said that by having more females working in creative roles male stereotypes would also start to be busted.

“I’m tired of seeing young male morons in beer ads, and men portrayed as hapless fathers. That’s what happens when our industry defaults to stereotypes. Men: you’re not being done justice by advertising,” she said.

“When it comes to the construct of advertising there are many things that need to change. When we actually change the ratio in our creative departments we will have more sympathetic descriptions.”

Gallop also took aim at the notion of a ‘talent drain’ from the creative industries with people moving to tech companies and start-ups.

“There is no war on talent, no ‘talent drain’, as when you go and look out there we’ve not even begun to tap into that talent,” she said.

Ultimately by employing more women Gallop claimed businesses would be more successful.

She said: “Women make shit happen, women get shit done. Want to do less work and make more money? That’s the answer.

“There’s a huge amount of money to be made out of taking women seriously.”

Only when gender equality happens, will sexual harassment be “managed” out of the business, Gallup said.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella Asia newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing