Snakes and Ladders – By @robyn_frost

Robyn Frost

By Robyn Frost



Snakes and Ladders



“To adapt best to a changing world, you have to know what should not change, and you should base that on what cannot change”.


I discovered the above on a website all about ex-Saatchi & Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts, (might wanna cancel the auto-renew on that domain). If you’re unaware of who Kevin Roberts is or what went down last week, I’ll just drop this sentence here: “the fucking [gender] debate is all over”. May I refer you to Twitter or the nearest newspaper for the full stream of bullshit that came out of Kev’s mouth. I’m on a word limit.


It’s taken me over a week to gather my thoughts and locate my guts in order to write some words on this because, quite frankly, I’m nervous that what I say will be misconstrued. I’m 23 and not even ‘in advertising’ yet. I’ve chatted to a few friends in Adland about how we’re all feeling post-shit storm. I say ‘post’… I’m well aware this is far from over, but the Twittersphere has mostly moved on to examining Orlando Bloom’s, ehem, paddle board. While many friends have expressed their support for this post, a few have advised me not to publicise my view, “do you HAVE to write it?”, “future employers might see it and judge”, and my personal fave, “you’re getting emotional”. Sound familiar, ladies?


Too many people are afraid of speaking out because of the consequences.


I learnt from a young age that expressing myself passionately or with confidence means I’m seen as hysterical/emotional/difficult, because that’s what I was told. I’ve finally grasped that ‘no fucks’ attitude, only to be told that it has an expiry date – when I want to progress within an agency and don’t, because I don’t fit the mould that’s still lying around from the 70s.


It’s no secret that big change needs to happen in Adland and beyond, where the advances towards gender balance are almost at a standstill. There’s a lot of talk and not enough do from people at the top. In my opinion, I don’t think things will change unless men and women share their experiences of gender discrimination from behind agency doors and equivalent. The truth hurts.


We’ve been conditioned for years at school and university, particularly in creative areas, that stepping out of our comfort zones enables us to produce great work. I know that I’ll be really uncomfortable at SCA and that’s what I’ve signed up for. I’m so done with comfort. Why isn’t this reflected high up in agencies?


I understand how easy it must be to hire people like you. To be comfortable in a position you’ve held for years. But change is a good thing. Hiring people who are different is a good thing. We can’t move forward unless we take some risks. People and their attitudes can change – I’ll change. I’ll try and keep my personality but expand my mind.


Alongside this, it’s important to remember and praise the things that make the ad industry great, (bear in mind I ain’t seen nothin’ yet).


I’d like to celebrate/see more of:


Women setting up their own agencies.


Female ECDs.


Forward-thinking male ECDs and advertising talent.


Gender equal juries. Big up D&AD, you had some great forewomen at New Blood this year. Keep ‘em coming.


Alexandra Taylor, Rosie Arnold, Laura Jordan-Bambach (just a few of the many women I admire), and all the other women who work to change this industry and the world.


Events and debates such as the 3% Conference.


Agencies attending and/or sponsoring the 3% Conference.


Using creativity for good.


Everyone doing their best to shape a bright future for all of us.

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