50/50 Initiative Launches in Canada!

What happens when over 150 women gather in one room for a photo? A whole lot of excitement, chatter, and most of all, empowerment.

Earlier this year, ADC launched the Let’s Make The Industry 50/50 Initiative with a stupendous photo shoot at the ADC Gallery in New York. Last week, the 50/50 Initiative moved north for its Canadian launch in Toronto, and to say it was a success would be an understatement. Hosted by Creative Niche and held at the beautiful Hoxton, professionals from all facets of the creative community showed up to support the initiative — one that calls for the creative industry to include more women in award show juries, speaking engagements and boards of directors.

The event began with a special announcement from Ignacio Oreamuno, Executive Director of ADC, releasing a list of all of the Canadian award shows and organizations who have agreed to participate in the 50/50 Initiative by working towards equal gender representation. This list includes The ICE Awards, The Lotus Awards, The Bessies, Applied Arts, Marketing Magazine, ADCC, and Brunico Communications.

“We as an industry need to stop talking so much, and we just need to make things happen,” said Ignacio, when explaining the need for the 50/50 Initiative. “I refuse to be a passenger in our industry and so should you. We got into this industry because we’re passionately in love with it. If there’s something we don’t like, just change it.”

“The initiative is important because it brings a different perspective, a balanced perspective,” noted Mary Maddever, VP, Editorial Director of Brunico Communications. “We still have a ways to go, but it’s a start.”

Nancy Vonk and Janet Kestin, celebrated creative veterans and co-founders of Swim shared their personal stories and respectful views on the 50/50 Initiative. “Serving on a jury was a career-making experience for me,” said Nancy. “I brought a different perspective to the jury table as a woman. The business model is still circa 1950. But I am happily here, and I whole heartedly embrace the 50/50 Initiative.”

Janet Kestin added that she had heard many great excuses in her career as to why so few female creatives existed in the industry. “If the women aren’t there in the agencies, then they can’t rise up into the senior roles and serve on juries. We all need 50/50.” She went on to share lessons she learned from having a baby — ones that made her both a better creative person and boss. “Work at a place that supports you. Look for a management that wants you to grow and develop. Do everything you can to help yourself grow. The industry is changing, but it isn’t changing quickly.”

Mandy Gilbert, Founder and CEO of Creative Niche, and a member of the 50/50 Initiative global committee reiterated the goals of the initiative. “By including successful, talented women in the conversation, we improve the value of the dialogue, bringing an important balance to the conversation and will change the ratio of our industries.”

Much like the New York launch of the 50/50 Initiative, the Toronto event concluded with a massive group portrait taken by acclaimed photographer Monte Isom.

All in all, it was a fabulous Wednesday afternoon that saw an important initiative celebrated and change on the horizon for the Canadian creative industry.

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

Story by Cass Zawadowski & Natasha Romanelli