Gender compensation: men cost extra

ADC Switzerland wants to achieve more women in creative management positions with gender compensation. How this is to be achieved, when the targeted reality will be reached, what hurdles need to be overcome and what the Oscars have to do with it. ADC board members Stefanie Huber and Inken Rohweder von Trotha explain.

Bild: / Virginia Marinova / ADC
(Image: / Virginia Marinova)

A good idea doesn't care who it comes from. The consumers of advertising based on good ideas don't really care either. But ... ADC Switzerland improves creative communication by judging it and recognizing above-average, outstanding and groundbreaking work, publishing the awards and making them a public issue. However, as an association of the leading creatives in the communications industry, ADC Switzerland currently has less than 20 percent female members. This is a shame, and the aim is to change this. Gentle pressure is being applied to move towards a 50:50 reality. This is to be achieved with the globally exclusive Gender Compensation initiative. Stefanie Huber and Inken Rohweder von Trotha explain the good idea behind it.

"The number of women in the club corresponds to the underrepresentation of female creatives in management positions. This is a problem that has improved slightly in recent years, but requires additional focus. It goes without saying that we do not want to accept women at random, but rather those who meet our criteria. This was the basis for the Gender Compensation initiative and the associated ADFforward program," recalls Stefanie. "We wanted to develop something that didn't exist yet. It made sense to us to compensate for the lack of women in teams," adds Inken. Gender compensation is also simple and easy to understand. It is comparable to CO2 compensation when flying, where a certain amount can be added - voluntarily - to the ticket price for every mile flown.

How it works

Every agency that submits a work for the ADC Awards lists the people involved in the work in the submission form - as always. What is new is that the Gender Compensation tool sorts the people involved according to male/female and any gender imbalance at creative management level is displayed on the screen as a percentage. The situation becomes clear. But even if all the alarm bells are ringing because there is not a woman in sight in the team, the agency can still do something. You can compensate for the imbalance and thus at least contribute to the general balance. Gender compensation is voluntary. Those who opt for it have three options with different amounts of compensation.

"In order to keep female high potentials and diverse talents in the industry, we need networking, exchange, role models, tools and coaching for smoother interaction."

"We want to create awareness with this initiative. CCOs and CEOs in agencies often have the impression that their teams are diverse. But if you ask them, there is a lack of women at CD level and above in creation," explains Stefanie. "That's why it would be valuable if they took gender compensation as an opportunity to recognize the inequality and change something in the future."

Money to move forward

The funds raised are also relevant to the topic - after the Awareness item. They flow into ADCforward. This tailor-made leadership program is aimed at female high potentials, who are supported through various measures (e.g. further training for the next career step). On the other hand, it is aimed at all managers in the advertising and communications industry who can play their part in promoting gender equality. "Managers who are responsible for the teams are increasingly confronted with demands from female employees as a result of social change. We often hear from men: 'That's enough! But that's not the case. It still takes a lot and especially a lot of understanding for each other," explains Inken. In the best-case scenario, ADCforward provides both groups with practical tools to stimulate measurable development.

Inken Rohweder von Trotha (links) und Stefanie Huber, beide im ADC-Vorstand.Bilder: Virginia Marinova
Inken Rohweder von Trotha (left) and Stefanie Huber, both on the ADC board. (Image: Virginia Marinova)

"In order to keep female high potentials and diverse talents in the industry, we need networking, exchange, role models, tools and coaching for smoother interaction. We can't afford for talented people to change direction because they are prevented from reaching top positions due to prejudices and often unconscious social barriers," Stefanie explains. She already received promising feedback after the premiere of the program last year. "Many participants thanked us for doing something so exemplary." For her, such personal experiences are a sign that the 50:50 reality is not a utopia. It's happening slowly. But it is happening. "Suitable partners could speed up the process. "Sponsors who want to pull together with us," says Inken, already thinking about the next step.

From gold cube to golden boy

In psychology, compensation refers to a strategy with which someone (consciously or unconsciously) attempts to compensate for an imbalance. With its initiative, ADC Switzerland wants to eliminate an imbalance that exists in other professions. Gender compensation could therefore be wonderfully applied to any creative competition, such as architecture prizes, music awards or the Academy Awards. "We would find collaborations exciting. Perhaps the Oscars 2025 would be less biased with gender compensation," says Inken with a smile.

ADC Switzerland - without putting on the barbierosa glasses - is facing equal times, which include excellent creative directors, art directors, copywriters, designers and directors. Maybe not tomorrow, but the die is cast.

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