Diversity issue of the ad world brought to life 3% Conference, organization which tries to change the situation and does it successfully. A year ago, anonymous Twitter account launched to support the discussion with humor.


The movement

3% Conference is the movement aimed to bring more women in creative leadership positions – not only to #ChangeTheRatio as conference’s hashtag appeals, but in sake of diversity which equals creativity which equals profitability. “The more varied the people who come up with ideas, the more varied the ideas will be”. Six years ago, when movement started, only 3% of all Creative Directors in the US were female, now the number grew to 11%. The effect was achieved through a mix of content, community and professional development and also by giving agencies a “road map” of how to change. 3% was founded by Kat Gordon, creative director and copywriter.

The 3% Conference. Talent Has No Gender


Satire support

In response to initiative, Twitter account 97% Conference appeared. Anonymous profile represents majority of advertising industry (i.e. men) in a satire and amusing way. #MaintainTheRatio, guys.

The 97% Conference. Twitter The 97% Conference. Twitter The 97% Conference. Twitter

Most people seemed to “get” 97% Conference and understand that it’s parody account – including Kat Gordon herself and Cindy Gallop. This approvance eventually lead to special session on this year’s 3% Conference during which author of the hilarious Twitter feed revealed himself and his motivation to laugh about important issue. John Kovacevich, freelance creative director, copywriter and the man behind 97% Conference, says that it all started as a joke but eventually went further because “sometimes absurdity demands an absurd respond”. And that can be more absurd than organized supporters of this absurd lack of diversity? Probably nothing.

“I’ve found that getting people to laugh about something is a pretty effective way of bringing an issue to light,” says Kovacevich, admitting that during his career he has worked with really talented female creative partners and… seen some “extra crap” they have to deal with.


Inequality in the industry

Without 97% Conference, “extra crap” of the ad world is not funny at all. Despite the fact that women influence upwards of 80% of consumer spending and 60% of social media sharing, number of females on the leadership positions in advertising industry is unbelievably small. “The rate at which women are amassing wealth and exerting influence is unprecedented. Yet the work that is supposed to motivate them springs almost entirely from a male perspective,” Kat Gordon comments. Sounds like business suicide, doesn’t it? Reasons of this are usually include “lack”: lack of support for motherhood, lack of mentorship, lack of celebration of women’s work due to various reason and, of course, lack of understanding that femaleness is the key of appealing to today’s consumer.

So-called “status quo” is now one of the most important issues facing the industry, and although 11% that we have now thanks to Gordon’s organization is much better than 3%, gender equality is still far away.

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