3% Conference – The Good, The Bad and the Inspiring


By The Chicago Egotist / /

We were lucky enough to get a seat at this year’s sold out 3% Conference at Chicago’s Navy Pier – or as founder Kat Gordon called it, “year eight of a social movement.” It was an event that featured a speakers list of highly accomplished women – and men – across all demographics and racial groups as well as a significant representation of LGBTQ speakers. In fact, we believe 3% is probably the most diverse and inclusive event in our industry. The speakers and participants were in stark contrast to this years ANA Masters of Marketing conference where over 3000 attendees heard leader Bob Liodice extol the organization’s diversity initiatives to a crowd that was devoid of color, with very few exceptions.

Since Kat Gordon launched her mission to change the ratio of women leaders in creative departments from an alarming 3% in 2011, the percentage of women in creative leadership has increased to 29% – with still a long way to go. She hoped to have men in attendance at 29%, but fell short with only 23%. Still, that’s good news.

3% too has evolved from a meeting of several hundred women coming together to champion female leadership and talent, to a movement devoted to bringing men into the process to fulfill its manifesto: “Diversity = Creativity = Profitability.”

Hearing from the Men

Proof that equality delivers results was the dramatic turnaround story Derek Robson, President & Managing Partner of Goodby Silverstein & Partners shared in a presentation titled Why the Future is Female and Why Men Need to Get Over it. On the heels of naming Margaret Johnson its first female Creative Director and then consciously making the gender of its leadership 50/50, GS+P has seen record results in financial performance and pitches won.  

But not all company’s are equal. As keynote speaker Wade Davis, former NFL player and the league’s first LGBT inclusion consultant noted in his talk How Men Advocate for Gender Equality, “there are more men named James as CEO’s of Fortune 500 Companies, than there are women CEO’s.” Davis said the #MeToo movement is a “gift to men,” and that it is time men show up and act. He noted “ally is a verb” and for men to be an ally to women in the workplace, they need to be intentional and do something.

Wade Davis, former NFL Player, Thought Leader, Public Speaker, Consultant

Privilege – Having it and Losing It

One of the more telling moments of the opening day was a presentation from Helen Cho, executive creative director at Dailey on how to Privilege Proof Your Agency. She explained that privilege is invisible to those who have it and asked the audience to consider what they do to avoid sexual assault every day. Something every woman in the room instantly understood – holding your keys as a weapon, making sure your cell phone is charged, not walking at night — but something most men don’t ever need to consider.

Chris Bergeron, VP, Content Experience, Cossette

Chris Bergeron’s Losing My Privilege: What Becoming a Minority Taught Me About Leadership was a story of how a supportive organization can lead to transformative business and personal results.   Chris’ personal journey from successful male journalist to a female agency leader offered important lessons on how leaders can support diversity and change by listening, supporting dissonance and understanding the needs of the minority.

Listen to your Mother

Perhaps the best advice to women in the industry came from the exchange between mother Desiree Adaway, a diversity consultant, and her daughter Jordan Dinwiddie, a copywriter at Wieden + Kennedy. The du0 offered up 10 lessons Jordan has learned as a black creative professional through casual conversations with her mom. The first and most important: Don’t accept a bullshit salary. Know your worth, and add tax.

This advice is something that 3% headliner Cindy Gallop has been advocating for years. As the mother to many of the industry’s action-oriented women initiative’s, Gallop’s takeaways from 3% are well worth reading.






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