November 15th 2017 was the day that women statistically
stopped being paid for the rest of the year due to the current gender pay gap. That’s 51 days. Yep, a month and half.
We decided to not just harp on about the problem but actively use our industry to do what it does best - come up with solutions. 51 ways we can close the 51 day gap. Our She Says #51Days51Ways campaign was born.
With any campaign there are things you learn along the way. But in this case they are also insights into how we can deal with the pay gap. Here’s what we discovered:
1. Ideas both big or small can help solve the problem.
Some people suggested big changes, like Cindy Gallop’s proposal of docking men’s salaries, to Stuart Royall’s recommendation to publish agency pay gaps in Campaign. While others came up with smaller but still punchy ideas such as displaying all staff salaries on a wall in your agency. Many of the ideas focused on women knowing their worth and fighting for it, creating great advice that we have even used ourselves since. It may have not been the next Nike brief but adland went to town and delivered interesting and thought provoking ideas.
2. Guys want to be part of the solution. Include them.
When we started asking people to send in solutions we naturally went to those that are most affected by the problem - women. But as the campaign went on and we talked about it to more people we soon realised it was becoming one sided. To really spark conversation we needed to opened it up to everyone. The guys we reached out to had absolutely no reservations in sending us their solutions. Which brings us to our next point…
3. The gender pay gap is a taboo subject.
We weren’t getting responses from some top people at agencies who we thought would be happy to share their solution or insight on the subject. We thought that maybe they were lucky enough to not be affected by the problem or venting their frustration at the pub was adequate but after some digging we found out it was something else. Surprisingly some women were not happy to be involved for fear of a backlash against them. This didn’t even cross our minds when we started the project. Would we face backlash for publishing the answers? Ah well, too late. No change is made sitting on the fence.
4. Adlanders don’t like replying to emails.
We should know this from our intern days. But bigger fool us for thinking if you’re senior this would be different. 51 responses felt so easy as first. Then by day 14 it felt like Everest! Herding 51 advertising cats on top of our day job was very, very hard work. Not to mention then scheduling the posts or in Instagrams case doing it manually everyday at 8am (cue the lack of extra zzz’s over Christmas). To the people who did respond with your solutions, words of support and encouragement, we are forever grateful for helping us make this a reality. We’ll see you in equality heaven.
Now all 51 solutions are in, what do we do now? We get doing! Ladies and gentlemen of adland, we suggest you read and take note of the solutions, we can’t pretend the gender pay gap will go away by itself. Use these solutions as jumping off point to change things in your agency and careers. If not for yourself then at least do it for us so we have to herd less than 51 people every year!
Tamryn Kerr and Ciara O’Meara are senior creatives and SheSays committee members.