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Return on Equality: How Gender-Equal Ads Pay Off

Media defines culture, culture defines change, and change defines action. As new technology and data enable people to consume more content than ever before, communication experts in the media industry have the consumer insights and power to inspire cultural change and unlock greater gender equality.

On average, people see 4,000 messages daily from brands and advertisers. “That’s a lot of messages that we can put out there with more positivity, more change,” says Katie Klumper, Principal and General Manager at Deloitte Digital and HEAT. “It’s a responsibility that we have as brands and advertisers.”

About 75% of consumers report feeling more positively toward companies whose ads demonstrate that men and women have the same capabilities. That means it’s time for inclusive and accurate representation to become a priority for everyone– not just industry leaders. The Female Quotient hosted our “Home of Equality” programming at The FQ Lounge @ ARF AUDIENCExSCIENCE to talk about steps advertisers can take to advance parity and why it matters. Watch the full discussion here and read the highlights below.

Leaders in The FQ Lounge at ARF 2019

Leaders in the FQ Lounge discussing how to advance equality  in ads.

Consistency & Authenticity Matter

“We need consistency. You can’t just have the token dad in that moment eating the Oreo cookies [with the kids] if he’s not consistently participating on a regular basis. We’re starting to see that reflected in advertising.”

—Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient


Diversity Happens from the Inside Out

“The way I like to talk about how we’re thinking about culture and diversity is through hiring and inspiring. Our CEO and executive committee team have made a dedicated effort to hire diverse players and bring them inside the agency. Unless you do that internally with your own group, you’re not going to be able to push your clients.”

—Jaclyn Ruelle, Managing Director, Cultural Impact and Brand Communications, The Martin Agency


“You find people if you look in the right places… It’s about being very conscious. It’s about making sure we don’t go to the same colleges and the same job fairs. If you look, you will find people who are incredibly talented.”

—Marcia Goddard, President, McCann Health, NJ


Ensure Female Representation Both On & Off Screen

“It’s not a casting decision. It’s not like, at the eleventh hour, we say, ‘Ok, let’s make sure it’s a 50/50 split in terms of talent that’s showing up on the TV.’ It’s not that. It starts at the briefing stage. It starts at the talent that’s sitting around the table that’s coming up with the ideas.”

—Katie Klumper, Principal and General Manager, Deloitte Digital and HEAT


Gender Equality Is Everyone’s Responsibility

“At The FQ, we say, ‘We for we.’ Gender equality is not a female issue. It’s a social and economic issue. It’s not a male issue, it’s a leadership issue. Leadership is still predominantly male, and so by default, it happens there.”

—Shelley Zalis, CEO, The Female Quotient


Sharing Stories Is How We Create Change

“Share it. Talk about it. Push it out to your communities. At the end of the day, a way to drive impact is by creating conversation. If you don’t get people talking, and, if you don’t have people who are moved by a piece of content or advertising, then you probably haven’t hit your mark.”

—Jaclyn Ruelle, Managing Director, Cultural Impact and Brand Communications, The Martin Agency


Transformation Takes Courage

“None of us are perfect as human beings, brands, or companies. So what part of this can we own?”

—Katie Klumper, Principal and General Manager, Deloitte Digital and HEAT


Making a commitment to building a culture of inclusivity where people can feel at home is more than just doing the right thing. When companies take accountability for increasing inclusion and build a greater sense of belonging internally, employees are happier and produce better outcomes. Companies retain talented employees for longer and businesses grow more successful all around.


For more on gender equality in media and advertising, check out:

How Media & Advertising Can Drive Equality- And What You Can Do to Help

Take 5: How to Make Ads More Gender Equal & Shift Culture

How Brands Can Tap into the Power of Gen Z