Staff Reporters
Mar 23, 2017

Campaign360: Coverage of our gender-diversity conference

Takeaways, notable comments and photos from Campaign360, our conference focused on industry gender diversity in Apac

Campaign360: Coverage of our gender-diversity conference
A summary of Campaign Asia-Pacific's live coverage of the Campaign360 conference that took place on 22 March 2017 in Hong Kong. 

Signing the mandate for change

  • Gerry Boyle, CEO, Publicis Media Asia-Pacific
  • Cheuk Chiang, CEO, Asia Pacific, Omnicom Media Group
  • Vishnu Mohan, CEO, Havas Media Asia Pacific
  • Angela Ryan, chief human resources and talent officer, GroupM Asia Pacific
  • Leigh Terry, APAC CEO, IPG MediaBrands
  • Nick Waters, CEO Asia Pacific, Dentsu Aegis Network

In the day's final presentation, the above industry leaders and Campaign's Atifa Silk have all signed on to support gender diversity—and to check up on each other's progress. We will post more details on the Mandate for Change soon.

Perspective from the industry's future leaders

  • Lynette Chua, account director, J. Walter Thompson Singapore
  • Julia Heffring, global network communications manager, iProspect
  • Aarie Li, planner, MediaCom Hong Kong
  • Masako Okamura, executive creative director, Dentsu Vietnam (moderator)

► The day's final panel discussion includes three young women sharing sometimes poignant stories of their path in the industry, past and future. All three are clearly strong talents, and all have a strong desire to make a career in the industry. But at same time, they see the conflict that will face them if they want to have a family, and they're not sure whether they'll be able to navigate that stage.

► Chua: The industry is "well known for long hours. You have to stay around the clock when you need to crack a brief, and this is the expectation."

► Chua: "I have been very lucky and fortunate to learn from two celebrated leaders in the industry (at JWT). They gain the respect of men and women alike, and they do it in a way that works for them."

► The industry does not do a good enough job at attracting talent in general, not just female talent. But beyond that, it's perhaps even worse at the step that comes after, "establishing a long-term relationship", Chua says. The hours are quite crazy, and it's very common for people to want to leave and have a more normal lifestyle. Her biggest hope? That the industry can be one that balances lives, has equal representation and gets the best out of people.

► "So far I don't see much gender-related obstacles," says Li, who adds that her company is stocked with women in leadership positions. "I really see female leadership, and our success is based on our achievements."

► Li: "Ability is genderless"

► Does the industry attract singles, or does it MAKE singles? A question Li says she and her colleagues reflect upon frequently. 

► The industry still has work to do in basic infrastructure to support young women, says Li, who shared a story of a female peer who needed to pump breast milk, but had to travel a long distance to a shopping mall (!) to do so. 

► Heffring: "When you are young person in the industry, it's easy to be impressed by the Cheryl Sandbergs of the world. But they are so far removed from your own experience" that they're not necessarily helpful role models.

► Asia is in an excellent position to create change, due to its diversity, Heffring says. "The work we're doing here in Asia, and Asia's role, can have a much broader global impact."

► Heffring: "We need to change the language from, 'she's such a strong female leader', to 'she's such a strong leader', full stop. That's how we'll really be getting somewhere.... Ten years form now it would be amazing if we didn't have to have a full-day event to address women in the workplace."

Stuck in neutral

  • Lynn Branigan, president and CEO, She Runs It

► Branigan introduces the conference to the history of women in advertising, mentioning Mathilda Weil—“who we call the first ad woman”—and Christine Frederick, the founder of the League of Advertising Woman in 1912, the first of its kind in the industry and the world.

► It was later called Advertising Women in New York (AWNY) and last year rebranded to become ‘She Runs It’. Branigan shares a few key takeaways from a recent global study She Runs It carried out in partnership with EY and LinkedIn, looking at 3.7 million profiles across 4,000 companies around the world.

► “Men are exceeding women in developing their personal brand score at every level except executive,” Branigan explains. This brand score, according to Linkedin, is about how robust your profile is, how many connections you have and whether you endorsing others. Men are a lot better at doing this than women, it seems.

► Men are also better at building personal networks, the study found. “Regardless of career stage, men do a better job of women at creating personal networks both internally and externally—15 percent higher connections at each career stage,” says Branigan. “You really have to be an advocate for yourself. Your skills alone will not get you to the top.”

► Branigan concludes her talk by asking: “Where do we go from here?” “The most important thing is we have to recognise the importance of community within organisations because the dialogue creates a better understand and it will spur action.”

A view from the top

  • Yvonne Man, anchor, Bloomberg Television
  • Mainardo de Nardis, CEO, OMD Worldwide
  • Lindsay Pattison, CEO, Maxus Worldwide

► Pattison pulls no punches from the off, saying: "gender diversity has actually gone backwards in the past five years."

► But she also said men must be part of the conversation, highlighting the example of the Tesco CEO who was castigated for joking that old white men were an "endangered species". He subsequently apologised, which Pattison disagreed with, arguing that his comments were taken out of context (the event he spoke at was actually one supportive of gender diversity).

► "We need to be careful not to jump on the bandwagon and not take things out of context" she says. "When it's something important that's actually holding you back, then it's a problem. But we have to find that balance between being ill-humoured and jumping on everything, and seeing that something was not said to be negative."

► De Nardis agrees, saying: "Take some things with a pinch of salt and a sense of humour. Not everything is meant in a negative way."

► An issue not talked much about today but Pattison raises is the challenge of connectedness for women in the workplace. "One of the things women to suffer from is that they’re less well connected, don’t have as big networks."

► De Nardis also says agencies should "steal with pride" when their competitors have come up with a good gender diversity programme.

► De Nardis adds that just having the right numbers is not solving the problem. "We might all be delivering on the metrics—more female leaders worldwide for example—but culturally we’re all getting further behind."


The cultural and societal pressures women face in Asia

  • Bob Grove, CEO, North Asia, Edelman
  • Angela Ryan, chief human resources and talent officer, GroupM Asia Pacific
  • Jasmin Sohrabji, CEO, Omnicom Media Group, India and South East Asia
  • Bertilla Teo, CEO, Publicis Media
  • Su-Mei Thompson, CEO, The Women’s Foundation

► Ryan: "Western models [applied to talent management] don't mirror [the experience of Asian women]."

► Ryan: "It would be remiss not to look at the role of male stereotypes...when they go into the workplace they may find it difficult to let go of their 'protector' mindset. They are often doing their best but because they are not checking their assumptions they are getting it wrong."

► Grove: "Microbehaviours" such as "drinking clubs" where decisions are made serve to exclude some women from the professional environment. This is the result of unconscious bias.

► Sohrabji: "Women sometimes feel pressured to conform to the Western lens" in countries like India or Indonesia, "but there shouldn't be any concerns other than how we perform in our jobs."

► Grove: "Men are still imprisoned in a gender stereotype...there could be a redefinition of what masculinity means. I really think we'd be better off losing the terms of masculinity and femininity and focusing on traits."

We for we: Gender equality must include men

  • Michael Kassan, chairman and CEO, MediaLink
  • Shelley Zalis, CEO and founder, The Female Quotient

► Zalis: “If men are not involved in this conversation, transformation will not happen.”

► Unsurprising results when Zalis asks audience members to raise hand if they've been called bossy before: One man raises his hand, in a joking manner. At least 20 times as many women raise theirs (no signs of joking).

► Zalis: It's not that women lack confidence. It's that media show a lack of confidence in women in the way they're portrayed.

► Kassan praises Dove's 'Real beauty' efforts for actually changing the conversation.

Here's our Facebook livestream from a bit earlier:

A proven approach to equality

  • Jean Lin, global CEO, Isobar
  • Jane Lin-Baden, CEO Asia Pacific, Isobar

► Lin, kicks off the discussion by commenting: "I don't know if anyone can be so arrogant to say they have a proven approach to equality. But you can sure say there is a proven approach to inequality."

► "The culture will not happen unless it is in the company's business model and mission," Lin says. In Isobar's case, the mission is expressed as transforming people's lives with the creative use of digital, and this flows through to workplace policies, the work environment, and inclusivity initiatives.

► "It is important for us as an agency to believe that we have to help, and we do have the responsibility to resolve the largest divide in the world right now"—the under-representation of women in boardrooms and leadership positions, Lin says. "Global businesses have the responsibility to be reflective of the society we live in."

► Businesses and leaders need to take care not to cast the push toward equality as a 'revolution', because revolutions involve bloodshed, Lin says. Rather, equality must be viewed as a goal that everyone is working toward—and one that benefits everyone.

► "Innovation is the engine for what we do" and a diverse workforce is necessary to drive that, says Lin-Baden. "We need a more operational and systematic way of creating that environment in which we tolerate disagreement, and we thrive on it."

► Over the last four years, Isobar's internal research has found a high correlation between its high-performing offices and the offices that are structured in a way that best respects automonomy and diversity.

► To avoid losing female leaders on the way to the top, Lin advises that leaders need to think broadly. "We have to have not just policies and checklists, but also a culture that makes people feel safe to voice out what their personal goal is, while also meeting the company's goals." Leaders must place a priority on finding creative solutions that help people achieve what they want in both spheres.

► The pair shares a number of examples of inclusivity initiatives from around the Isobar world, including a programme in Canada that ensures the company is sending the right "cultural signals" in its hiring activities, and a Women's Council in India that not only nurture leaders and supports flexible working arrangement, but also provides a system for addressing harassment.

► Lin-Baden shares her personal story of how Isobar's flexibility allowed her to take care of her family's needs while also ascending to her post as APAC CEO. (Earlier, she shared this story with Campaign in written form. See Should family be a reason for women to retreat from career progression?)

► Echoing the earlier presentation by Kathryn Jacob, Lin-Baden comments that, "It's totally fine to be fabulous" but also to remember that "we don't need to undermine anyone else to make us shine."

► Lin wraps up with a call to leaders to find the confidence to embrace "cultures of many". "The most convenient way to manage is to not encourage individuality or diversity," she says. "This is a big, big challenge for business leaders. To say 'I won't be threatened by embracing people from different backgrounds and different opinions as well."


Shattering the glass ceiling

  • Joanne Lao, CEO, Greater China, TBWA
  • Sitha Nuon, media director, Havas Riverorchid
  • Kristie Lu Stout, anchor and correspondent, CNN International
  • Ruth Stubbs, global president, iProspect Dentsu Aegis Network

► Stout, kicking off the session: "Women are having a moment."

► Lao on what has contributed to her success: ’Having some great role models in my life, both men and women. One thing they had in common was that they were authentic, genuine people, out for the greater good. They empowered me to learn and do.”

► Nuon on joining her company as a receptionist: “At the time I didn’t even know what media meant.” Twelve years on she is the boss. Her career success has been largely driven my her own hard work and determination, she says.

► Both Stubbs and Lao say that being genuine and truthful, whether in general leadership style or in the manner in which you talk to people coming up through the business, is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn in business. “Sharing the lessons you’ve learned as you go up your career is really helpful,” says Stubbs 

► The panel discusses the value of the peer base for sharing issues women commonly feel, such as ‘imposter syndrome’, compared to sharing with mentors. Says Stubbs: “Sometimes there are things I can’t talk about to my mentor. I give myself a little briefing before I talk to my mentor, which I really don’t think is the point. There’s an expectation you have with mentors to show that you’re doing the best you possibly can.”

► Stout is discussing the glass ceiling, and asks the panelists how they have encountered it in their careers until now. Says Lao: “I’ve been with the same company for 20 years and throughout, I’ve found the men in my life have tried to protect me. They felt like they were thinking on behalf of my best interests, rather than actively moving me on a career path. Yes I’ve been promoted and recognised along the way, but anything that was really significant, I’ve had to ask for...I’ve found that if I didn’t put my hand up, I wouldn’t necessarily be considered.”

► In terms of the gender pay gap, Stubbs says she is constantly on the lookout for this in her industry. “But I admit that when I was promoted recently I thought in my head ‘of course I’ll get less money’. I automatically thought that.”

► Lao: “I have never been afraid of success. I am more afraid of failure.”

► Discussing perceptions of women in Asia, Nuon says: “In Cambodia the perception is that women will just stay at home but actually women want to do more. We are moving towards higher levels of women working.” Lao agrees that in China, the ‘leftover women’ label is a problem because it puts a lot of pressure on women to get married. Things are changing, however. “There is a movement now around women wanting to be independent because they can,” says Lao.

► The panel is asked about their biggest career failures. Says Stubbs: “Following the money was the dumbest thing I ever did. Someone comes along with a big bag of cash and I follow it. It was a trainwreck. Don’t be doing that.” Lao says her biggest failure was doing something she wasn’t really passionate about and failing.

► Stout adds her own comment: “A colleague said I spent too much time working on my ‘external PR’ rather than the team I worked with. It was brutal to hear but it was the best advice I ever received.”

Photo by @HavasMediaAPAC

Retaining top female talent

  • Seraphina Wong, executive director of global advertising and head of Asia Pacific, UBS AG
  • Séverine Charbon, global chief talent officer, Publicis Media
  • Lucy Hockings, news presenter and anchor, BBC News
  • Leigh Terry, APAC CEO, IPG MediaBrands
  • Juliet Timms, Global CEO, Grace Blue

► Panelists delivering a lively discussion about how to provide the flexibility that helps women to continue to progress in their careers while also being able to start and continue to nurture their families.

► Terry: "There needs to be a recognition in this industry that being part-time does not mean that you are not committed."

► Wong, on flexible hours: "They may end up calling in and doing more days. There has been not enough empathy, they are not entirely comfortable in not calling in."

► Timms: "It is absolutely important for women to think that they can do it all. There’s a period in a women’s life that’s very demanding they they have young children or elderly to care for. People need to see other people coping with it, and think they can do it."

► Wong: "The main barrier is not that organisations are unable to put up policies or structures, but that there's a lack of empathy to address emotional needs."

► Timms: "The biggest barrier is the lack of role models. You've only got 27 percent of senior executive jobs held by women. As an industry we need to be braver, more creative and more open about how we find these role models."

► Terry: "As a client services industry we can make decisions but clients need to be part of the conversation and sign up for the wider agenda" when it comes to a more flexible working setup. "There needs to be a social contract with clients."

► Charbon: "Technology can help but also hinder. The work gets done but you may be pulling a five-day week when being paid for just three. The recognition that part-time doesn't mean not committed needs a mindset shift from the management. Managers need conscious education."

► Timms: "Women often see more senior women run ragged and think, it's too difficult—I don't want that life. There is a period in all our lives where careers are at their most demanding. For both men and women it's a tough time and people need to see others coping with it and think, I can do it."

► Terry: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. You need targets. Otherwise change will be a lot slower than it needs to be."

Photo by @DeepaBalji on Twitter

Men, women and The Glass Wall
Kathryn Jacob, OBE, CEO of UK agency Pearl & Dean

► Jacob starts off talking about why she and Sue Unerman wrote The Glass Wall. “This is an issue for both genders and not just from an ethical point of view," she said. "If you’re a male boss recruiting at a 50 percent level, your loss of female talent should act as a wakeup call.” Moments later she has the entire conference on its feet, hands defiantly on hips, saying “I am going to crush gender diversity.” A few nervous laughs around the room…

► Her point is that it’s often about the need for women to phrase things in a more powerful way. Women's tendency to downplay achievements holds them back in a world where male colleagues unconsciously talk themselves up. Examples have also shown the importance of learning to "speak the same language" as male colleagues in order to be taken more seriously.

► Jacob quotes ‘cakky’ research by McKinsey that stated ’only 41 percent of 200 successful women said they aspire to join the C-suite. Says Jacob: “I’ve never sat in group of 10 women and six have said ‘I’d like to trundle along and be paid less than everyone else'.”

► The biggest change the industry needs to see? Jacobs wants to focus on creative teams in agencies. She quotes data from Creative Equals in London saying that advertising college graduates are 50/50 men and women. Yet women make up just 25 percent of creative departments and ECDs are in single digits. “There has been no change for a decade, whereas in the media industry there has been substantial change,” says Jacob. Part of the solution? Eighty-eight percent of young female creatives say there aren’t enough female role models in creative agencies. Recruitment is crucial.

► Jacob leaves the stage after rolling a series of film clips of women owning male-dominated scenarios. First up: Erin Brockovich, aka Julia Roberts, giving hell to the board of directors threatening not to support a town affected by contaminated water.

Photo by @Emalalaa on Twitter

Opening session: Exclusive gender research results

Anne Rayner, global head of communications research with Kantar TNS, reveals the results of Campaign Asia-Pacific's 2017 Gender Diversity Study.

See our full story here: Agencies better for gender equality than brands: Exclusive research

(This article first appeared on It was updated through the day of the festival (22 March 2017.)

Campaign India