Another year and another Cannes Lions Festival has been and gone. As a Cannes-virgin it was certainly an experience; excessive rose, grand parties, exclusive superyachts and living it up at the lavish Carlton Hotel. Some would say – ‘what have you got to complain about’ – but stripping back the glitz and glamour and walking around the Palais and along the Croisette I was surprised, perhaps naively, by the lack of female representation that still exists at the festival.
There is no doubt that Cannes Lions has made a positive commitment in addressing the lack of female representation in the advertising industry, particularly when you consider 43% of this year’s juries were women in contrast to 21% five years ago. However, it is clear there is still a long way to go in closing the gender equality gap, as a large number of the main stage seminars continued to be dominated by men.
When you consider that only 9% of ads and 14% of films globally are directed by women, the finger points to the top level of the creativity scale to address the lack of female representation across the board. Take Google – its latest diversity report revealed that its workforce is still overwhelmingly white and male. In response, it comes as no surprise that its hired a vice-president of diversity to help step up its gender equality strategy. Twitter and Apple are two other big players who have been making a conscious effort to ramp up their diversity activity.
The advertising industry is on a journey and positive changes are happening, slowly but surely. As the big players set an example in improving gender equality, I hope others follow suit and perhaps next year my outlook on Cannes will be a slightly different tale.