4As President Nancy Hill penned a piece appearing on the Campaign US Web site today in which she reported that more than half of women in the industry recently surveyed by the organization has experienced sexual harassment at least once.
Gender diversity and harassment in Adland are among the industry’s top problems, as punctuated earlier this year by the departure of two holding company agency CEOs — JWT’s Gustavo Martinez and Rapp’s Alexei Orlov — after harassment and retaliation suits were filed against them. More recently Saatchi & Saatchi Executive Chairman Kevin Roberts was shown the door after publicly stating that the industry debate about women in workplace was over and that many women simply didn’t aspire to top management roles.
“What is hard to believe,” Hill stated in her piece is that despite all the evidence that suggests otherwise, “we hear a comment so out of touch with reality that it confirms what many of us fear: There are industry leaders out there who brush off gender and diversity issues; too many C-suite execs believe this issue is an isolated problem, one that doesn’t exist in "my house" or, remarkably, one that doesn’t exist at all.”
In the 4As survey, Hill reported, women also responded that there have been at least a few times when they have not received desired assignments or promotions because of discrimination (33%) and that there have been times when they were not included in making decisions that they should have been included in because of discrimination (42%).
And when asked to what extent they feel potentially vulnerable to discrimination at work in the advertising industry, more than half of the respondents said their gender made them feel either somewhat vulnerable (39%) or very vulnerable (15%), higher than any other attribute in the survey.
Almost two-thirds of respondents either agreed somewhat (40%) or agreed totally (19%) that there were times when they personally experienced discrimination without recognizing it — only now do they see it was discrimination.