Diageo CMO wants gender equity from her agencies

Diageo’s global CMO, Syl Saller, has had enough of her agencies’ slow-motion progress toward gender equality, sending a letter calling on them pick up the pace.

As first reported by both Campaign and The Drum, Saller has asked for the percentage of women in the agencies’ creative leadership and overall management, as well as information on any gender pay gaps and their plan to address any imbalance.

In the first few paragraphs of her letter, which were provided to The Message, Saller asked for the agencies’ support to address the issue of gender imbalance in advertising.

“We believe that diversity is a key enabler of making better creative and more effective work, and want to make sure we are putting this right at the forefront of our marketing and creative development work,” she wrote.

She said the industry has been too slow to fix how women are portrayed in content, and how few qualified women are working in senior creative roles. “We need to make faster progress and the time for action is now,” she wrote.

“Rather than just us all having conversations, which we were having, I have written to them all personally and said ‘Right, here’s what we want and what we want you to share.’ They don’t usually say no to me so I’m hoping by upping the ante a bit they will share,” Saller told The Drum.

Diageo has made a concerted effort to correct imbalances within its own business, reporting that 40% of its executive committee and 45% of senior marketing leadership worldwide are women.

It also conducted a review of creative work globally to identify where it could improve on progressive gender portrayals, and created a framework covering representation, agency, perspective and characterization of gender in its creative. All 1,200 marketers globally are being trained on that framework and it is even being shared with other companies.

How are Canadian marketers and agencies doing when it comes to fixing the gender imbalance. Drop us a note and let us know. (And yes, we can protect your identity.) 

David Brown