50/50 Initiative Kicks Off At the ADC Gallery

Yesterday afternoon, the Art Directors Club officially kicked of its 50/50 Initiative — whose goal is to bring equal gender representation to the creative industries, specifically in award show juries, speaking engagements and boards of directors — by inviting women from all facets of the creative community to the ADC Gallery for a 144-person group photo.

There was excitement in the air, but also a dose of healthy skepticism; after all, this was far from the first time somebody has called for the ad industry to include more women in their positions of influence. But after being introduced to the 50/50 Initiative’s committee — Samantha DiGennaro, Founder & CEO of DiGennaro Communications; Cindy Gallop, Founder of IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn; Mandy Gilbert, Founder & CEO of Creative Niche Inc; Jen Larkin Kuzler, Director of Awards Programs here at the ADC; and Alessandra Lariu, Co-Founder of SheSays — some of that doubt was converted into optimism, and the buzz was palpable as nearly 150 industry women assembled before famed photographer Monte Isom.

After the photo was taken, another announcement was made, this time showcasing the organizations that have already publicly pledged to live up to the ideals brought forth by the 50/50 Initiative. This included the 4A’s (represented by President & CEO Nancy Hill), the CLIO Awards (represented by Executive Director Nicole Purcell), Social Media Week (represented by Founder & Executive Director Toby Daniels), FIDcr, and of course our own ADC Annual Awards and Tomorrow Awards.

Ignacio Oreamuno, Executive Director here at the ADC, gave his thoughts on why it has taken so long for such an initiative to surface. “I think it’s because people expect change to be instantaneous, like magically one day someone else will solve the problem. They forget that they ARE the industry. You don’t need some holding company to make the change for you. Change can come from anybody, and that’s what we are doing here today.”

Nancy Hill, President and CEO of the 4A’s, believes that part of the challenge of increasing female representation comes from women themselves. “For this to happen, we need women to say ‘yes’. Say yes when you are asked to judge an award show, or sit on a panel. Raise your hand when an opportunity arises to be a public face in this industry.”

Of course the famous Cindy Gallop — who has been fighting the good fight with a gold plated chainsaw for a number of years — couldn’t be happier with the 50/50 Initiative’s goals. “I’m absolutely thrilled that Ignacio and the ADC are spearheading this with total conviction. More importantly, the ADC and all of the other organizations involved are making very public declarations about this initiative. This makes them accountable in the public eye, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anybody in our industry take that enormous step. I can’t wait to see it take effect.”

For more information on the 50/50 Initiative, and to sign the pledge to show your support, please visit 5050initiative.org

Follow the latest updates on Twitter: @5050_Initiative

Hashtag: #makeit5050