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October 12, 2016

Trent Thompson

Trent Thompson is a manbassador and group creative director at Cossette in Toronto. An award-winning writer and CD, he oversees the creative on the agency’s data, digital, and CRM accounts.

3% Minicon Toronto Manbassadors Panel, left to right: Franke Rodriguez, partner/CEO, Anomaly. Brett Marchand, CEO, V7/Cossette. Wendy Clark, CEO, DDB Worldwide. Andrew Kirby, VP Client Services, Sapient Nitro. Frank Palmer, Chairman & CEO, DDB Canada.

Guest Post by Trent Thompson, Group Creative Director at Cossette Toronto

On August 30th, I attended my first 3% event and the first 3% Minicon held in Toronto. The day promised speakers, panels, and inspiration around empowering women in creative leadership in advertising.

We sat at Toronto’s new Miami Ad School, listening to Kat; learning about her journey and the evolution of The 3%. We heard some of the top women leaders in the industry talk about their arduous journeys to the top of their field. Heidi Hackemer inspired us with her story and the strength of the culture she and her team have built at Wolf & Wilhelmine.

Some of our industry’s male leaders talked about what they have done and what they are doing to champion the women on their staff. Daina Middleton talked about #GracewithGrit and shed light upon the characteristics which make women and men leaders different.

It all culminated in a rooftop reception which buzzed with inspired energy.

But there was a problem. That day, there were about 15 men in a room of 200.

When I got back to the office, I was energized. The following week, I hosted a lunch and learn at the office to share my key takeaways from the August 30th session. In preparation, I traded emails with Kat to get some facts and pointers, I did my research, put my deck together, and presented to a room of about 80.

Following my session at the agency, I had many of my colleagues approach me and tell me how much they enjoyed my presentation. There were a lot of questions about why I thought our industry was the way it was. Some amazing discussion followed.

But there was a problem. I was talking about the importance of diversity at a leadership level, but I was one of only three leaders in the room.I was the only creative director in the room.

So, I attend a conference about empowering women creatives and leadership, and six percent of the audience is men. As powerful as the preaching was, it was being done to the converted.

I come back to the agency to share my new perspective and learnings about empowering female creative talent and leadership, but there were barely any leaders in the room. I too was preaching to the converted.

Let’s stop preaching to the converted.

Those I presented to didn’t need someone telling them diversity at a leadership level is a good idea. They’re young and have emotional intelligence. They know.

The enlightened men and empowered women at the conference didn’t need to be to shown the landscape. The men see it clearly. The women live in it.

Frank Palmer, Chairman & CEO of DDB Canada and 3% manbassador said it best:

“This conference needs more men.”

If more men heard about the struggles of women in our industry first hand; if they met the dynamic women leaders I met that day at Miami Ad School, they could not help but understand that we MUST act.

As an industry, we MUST start celebrating these spectacularly talented individuals. Even more importantly, we must start championing them. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good business.

With more diverse leadership, comes more diverse thinking. This leads to better, more insightful work. And with better, more insightful work, comes more successful clients. And isn’t that our job?

If we don’t champion talented women, they will find someone who will. Their talent will leave and we will never get it back. As that talent vacates our offices, doors will close—figuratively and literally. And that can’t happen.

A challenge to my fellow creative directors and the agencies at which they work:

Find one shining, talented woman. Put her on a pedestal. Be there to help her knock down the obstacles that will undoubtedly arise. Perhaps more accurately, help her dismantle the ones that have always been there. Be her sponsor.

If every one of us sponsors one talented woman creative leader, this problem goes away. If every one of us does this, then our industry evolves and flourishes. And if we do this, then The 3% is a memory—which is exactly what they’re striving for.

So, I know who I’m sponsoring. I’ve told her. I’ve told others. I’m in.

Who’s next?