Aussie MD: Sexism is real in the industry

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A top Australian advertising executive hopes the Kevin Roberts gender saga could be a catalyst for change in the industry. Anne Miles, founder and managing director at International Creative Services says sexism in the advertising industry is real – and she’s experienced it first hand.

Miles has had 30 years experience in the industry working  with the likes of Dairy Australia, Tennis Australia, Holden, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Goodyear, Midas, Black & Decker, BHP, Blockbuster, Kraft Foods and Coles Supermarkets.

This is a part of her opinion piece from B&T Today:

I’ve had a big brand’s marketing director ask me to show him my breasts instead of the $900,000 budget I was about to present,

I’ve been called ‘the girlie’ in meetings despite my senior position as head of department.

I’ve been pushed over and sat on in the hallway of the office by a senior writer, and had the creative director flop his penis out onto my shoulder while I was on a serious phone call.

I have been ridiculed for my nipples being evident through my shirt when the aircon was too high (turned down by the said creative director who also spat at me from time to time), and have had a beer can thrown at me in a rage because I was taking leave to get married.

“I have had the creative director break into my hotel room and put his hands on my breasts (then expect me to stay quiet about it).”

During all these crazy experiences (and the list is not complete here), was the fact that not one of the business leaders stood up and made a stand about any of this for me. Not one of my co-workers said a single word of support.

To me, that was the bigger crime and this is the remnant we still see today. This is what we risk now with industry leaders who have had this kind of world as their ‘normality’ in the foundation of their business career and working style.

This is why it is all the more important that Saatchi & Saatchi deal proactively with Kevin Roberts’ over his alleged faux pas right now, and should be commended on their current stand to suspend him and investigate.

It is time that the best people are hired for the right reasons, that clients actually question these influences and values in their suppliers. Clients too, need to stand up and choose partners that support their values – and do the right thing.

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