The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions. 2019. My Health, My Wellness, My Story. Shelley Zalis. Linda Yaccarino. Julianne Hough. NBCUniversal. Expanded Fitness.

Leaders Share Their Favorite Action Steps to #MakeEqualityMoves

We’re just getting started in the FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions where leaders from nearly 50 companies are gathering to accelerate gender equality across The Female Quotient’s four core pillars: Parity, Advancement, Culture, and Leadership. We’re making mental health matter, discussing the female gaze, sharing inclusive leadership tips, and more. Scroll down for some highlights from the day.


“Mental health affects everyone: it doesn’t care about status, gender or race. I would like to see mental health prioritized the same way physical health is.”­­

Corinne Foxx, Actress and Activist

We know that gender is a big determinant of mental health for both men and women. We also know that media defines culture, and culture defines change. If we use the power of media as a force for good like actress and activist Corinne Foxx, we can eliminate stereotypes about gender that impact our mental and physical health. In order to create a more equal world, as Corinne says, each of us can ask ourselves, “Am I the best that I can be?” and, “Am I leading by example?”


“The only way that you can create something that is truly authentic is to give agency over to the people who are creating the environment and casting the subjects and that’s what we are doing.”

Amanda de Cadenet, Founder and CEO, Girlgaze

Female-identifying creatives behind the lens are strikingly underrepresented in all mainstream media. In fact, research shows that under 5% of published and collected photographs are taken by women, and many commercial agencies’ employees comprise around 2% women. According to Amanda, we can close the gender gap one job at a time. Providing women with paid opportunities to share how they see the world doesn’t just improve confidence—it also improves business. When consumers are more informed and feel represented, they push brands to develop products that they need. In today’s market, brands that listen are rewarded.


“As a female leader, it’s important to mentor young men as well as women.”

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, CEO, Global Affairs, Ipsos

Seeing women as mentors in the workplace is just as important as seeing women as mentees. It’s something we call mentorship in the moment: a practice in which anyone can gain bite-size pieces of guidance from anyone, anytime. As Najat points out, we can all be leaders if we just take an opportunity to offer and/or receive advice whenever it arises.


“Anybody can give a handout. Pour Les Femmes pajamas became the voice for women in the Eastern Congo. And, it allows the public to participate. Every time you purchase a pair of pajamas, you as the consumer are being that voice again, and helping them to have a sustainable life.”

Robin Wright, Actress and Co-Founder, Pour Les Femmes 

Social activism is not only a trademark of female success, but it’s also in the DNA of Gen Z consumers. In addition to buying from socially-conscious brands, we can all make a difference and raise awareness about the causes we care about if we choose to. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.


“Only 4% of sports promotion goes to women’s sports. Enough said.”

Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer, WWE

In order to change the game, we need to bring together media, marketers, and leagues. It’s time for brands to give female athletes the visibility they deserve because, as Stephanie says, “Women in sports are bringing it.” Why does this matter? Equal representation will inspire young women to join teams (and what do a disproportionate number of CEOs have in common? They played sports when they were younger).


“For me, it is very important that we as an industry work together.”

Aline Santos, Global EVP of Marketing and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Unilever

Accelerating change is everyone’s responsibility. Together, we are unstoppable. To walk the talk, professionals within the advertising industry can actively take measures to create accountability for progress. The Unstereotype Alliance, for example, calls upon all businesses to sign a pledge and commit to testing their advertising. As individuals, each of us also has the power to spread a vision of an unstereotyped world.


“I’ve been called ‘pushy’ in a lot in meetings when I am showing conviction.”

— Joanne McKinney, CEO, Burns Group

Gender bias is so deeply ingrained in society that it influences the default mode of thinking for everyone. The good news is that everyone also has the ability to make a conscious decision to combat bias. To become conscious of unconscious bias, there are tools (check out #BiasCorrect) that everyone can use to detect their blind spots in everyday conversations.


“The qualities women are known for like relationship building, nurturing, multi-tasking, are all skills we bring to the office that are great for businesses. It’s not vulnerability. They’re our superpowers.”

Julianne Hough, Founder and CEO, Expanded Fitness

What if women cared for themselves in the same way they care for others? As the traditional primary caregivers, women often put everyone other than themselves first—at the expense of their health and happiness. But the truth is that, unless we put ourselves first, we won’t be our best selves. Stop thinking self-care is selfish. Start celebrating innately feminine characteristics as a strength.


“My parents always taught us, ‘Get an education and be financially independent.’”

Linda Yaccarino, Chairman, Advertising and Partnerships, NBCUniversal 

The differences between the messages that are marketed to girls and boys reinforce gender stereotypes that impact us throughout life. This pursuit of perfection holds women back from entering professional fields and applying for jobs unless we meet every qualification.  Although women are reported to get higher grades in all subjects, are increasingly earning more college degrees, and make up the majority of primary breadwinners, women’s participation in technology has declined. Broadening the depiction of what a coder looks like in the media will help close the gender gap.


“What I would say to all of you out there who truly are inclusive is to play that up. That is a strength in much demand right now. Really take advantage of that when you think about where you want to go — that currency is at an all-time high and you know it when you see it. So if you’re an inclusive leader, really take advantage of that.”

Suzanne Kounkel, Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte

A recent study that The Female Quotient conducted with Ipsos indicates that only 28% of employees feel their workplace represents the diversity of people in their country. All leaders are capable of creating more inclusive workplaces and cultures of belonging beyond the hiring process. Don’t rely on training certificates to confirm your status as “inclusive.” We all have it within us to train ourselves to be better humans. Just start. The rules of inclusive leadership are that simple.


Check out the full panel discussions here and stay tuned for updates from The FQ Lounge @ Cannes Lions. To learn more about #MakeEqualityMoves, don’t miss:

How to #MakeEqualityMoves

The Female Artists Who #MakeEqualityMoves

Why Fathers Feel There is a “Parenthood Penalty”