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  • Writer's pictureHannah Williams

Agencies Embracing Equity

Just 20% of agencies have female founders, so, for every 5 founders in a room, only 1 of those people can articulate the lived experience of women in the industry. That is also not accounting for 75% of agency leadership teams being 100% white.

This isn’t just detrimental to women and in particular women of colour but to the industry itself, there is a major resource of knowledge and experience being left untapped.

Our founder, Claire Hutchings, is passionate about including diversity in our ways of working, stating that “Chime Agency was never designed to be all-female, it's been a happy accident and one I am proud of. However, our freelancer talent pool is much more diverse and keeps our approach and thinking fresh. I am conscious that we don’t fall into the trap of so many other businesses and become a homogenous echo chamber.”

20% of UK agency founders are female. Only 1% of global creative agency founders are women.

For International Women’s Day this year, we wanted to scratch beneath the surface of what the reality is of working for and with women in the agency world. Encouraged by the theme of IWD being “Embracing Equity” we set out to answer some questions that helped demonstrate just what that truly means.

Chime Agency’s Head of Strategy and Campaigns, Rachel Baines, defined her personal interpretation of equity as “….the cupcake analogy. Men and women both have cupcakes, men have icing and sprinkles and are looking for the cherry on top. Women are asking for the icing and sprinkles for their cupcakes first, before working in unity to achieve the cherry”. Defining equity this way allows for individual differences to be celebrated. Women aren’t the same as men and there are strengths and weaknesses that complement each other. We should be embracing this instead of trying to fit everyone in the same box.

Equity requires all of us, we all come from a different ‘ground zero’ so how we build our lives around ourselves will also be different! This is true throughout a career; what you need at 25 years old is likely going to be different from what you need at 55, regardless of your gender, but for women, these differences are more pronounced and often considered negatively.

50-64-year-old women are 3x more likely than men to be employed part-time.

The statistics speak for themselves, between the ages of 50 and 64, women are three times more likely than men of the same age to be employed part-time. In conventional thinking, this equals diminished effectiveness and worth in the workplace, despite recent history proving that this just isn’t the case. In fact, multiple studies show that part-time and flexible workers are often vastly more productive than their full-time counterparts.

Thinking about how these perceptions can play out, Kamila Stopka, Chime Agency Junior Marketing Strategist, states “Often “masculine” qualities are viewed as more desirable societally for leadership roles. I think the agency industry (as well as other industries!) should pay more attention to possible unconscious biases they might have during the hiring process.”

80% of people who work in AI are male.

And it doesn’t stop there, the hiring process is one part of the puzzle but with the development of artificial intelligence within marketing, it has been highlighted that almost 80% of people who work in AI are male. Agencies have an opportunity to harness this tech but also ensure what is created is diverse and inclusive so we don't build in the same entrenched biases over and over again.

“There are so many areas where women are essentially forgotten in the business world which have a significant impact not only on the workforce but also on the bottom line. AI is going to play a major role in how we conduct marketing in the future, and how many of our daily activities will be managed, but the industry is almost impenetrable to women” says Rachel Baines. “If you don’t consider how women will understand technology, you’re also not understanding how it can benefit them, meaning over 50% of the workforce will be late embracing innovation that will impact how agencies and their clients can future-proof themselves and provide state of the art solutions for their clients.”

We are also seeing more agencies set up with inclusivity baked into their service offerings, helping their clients to be more diverse and inclusive in their communications and campaigns. We hope the rise in these agencies will also support the intersectionality issues our industry faces as a whole.

At Chime, we’re in a great position to really highlight the brilliance of working with women. Personally, I find being surrounded by clever, talented women every day inspires me, and watching Chime Agency grow reminds me of what I am capable of as a woman. As Marketing Campaign Manager, Louise Henderson says “Working in a female-led agency is empowering! I'm surrounded by strong and inspiring women who challenge me to grow and reach my full potential. At Chime Agency, we’re using our creativity, innovation, and strength to make a positive difference.”

As a female-led agency, we want to champion the voices of women and help to create the right atmosphere within the industry to inspire women to demand those positions of authority and leadership. This is why Chime Agency has joined Women In Agencies, where a wealth of resources are available as well as opportunities to connect and collaborate with other female professionals.

It's important for agencies (and any business) to ensure they’re walking the talk and supporting women at all stages of their careers. Performative feminism will likely be out in force this International Women’s Day so we as an industry must ensure we are truly creating the change we want to see. Raising others up is the responsibility of every single one of us.

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