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The Glass Lion - Change Has To Come from the Top



Creative partner at YOLO Sydney Paul Fenton shares his thoughts on the Glass Lion

The Glass Lion - Change Has To Come from the Top

YOLO Sydney creative partner Paul Fenton shares his thoughts on the Glass Lion, and the impact it will have on the way the ad industry approaches gender

If the Glass Lion is an award given to thinking that is all about celebrating and portraying the world in a more gender-neutral way, then that has to be a good thing. 

The figures change depending on what source you’re reading; but if the average consumer engages with somewhere between 3,000 - 20,000 messages a day – I’m sure the landscape would look very different if they were all to become gender-neutral.

My wife and I have a 21st century daughter. She understands that it’s completely normal for dad to do the laundry and for mum to mow the lawn, and vice versa. We want her to make life choices based on her hopes, dreams and desires… not because she’s being constantly informed by a selection of antiquated gender-based stereotypes.

Change has to come from the top. And the ‘top’ is contextual. It means different things in different parts of our society. In the home, parents or guardians are the role models and culture creators. In schools, it’s the teachers that have a responsibility to make sure that gender equality is discussed, upheld and supported. Within our own industry a version of this structure needs to exist as well.

As creators, we can’t write, approve, design, film, build and blast gender neutral content, apps and advertising etc. into the world and then expect our audience to subscribe to this way of ‘being’ if we’re not going to behave with equality at the very places we all work. At the time of writing - Havas, WPP, Publicis, Interpublic Group and Omnicom all have a chairman and they refer to their senior staff as management. 

Creating a ‘gender blind’ society is an incredibly big ask -- as change always is. But the conversation has got some real momentum at the moment and with support coming from some very powerful and forward thinking voices within our industry and beyond, it’s being given a great chance to succeed. 

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