Gender Equality in the Creative industry

By Hilary Joiner – Creative Director, Stripe

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, one expert, Marc Bendick goes as far as to say that nothing has changed in half a century for the ad industry. He says, “If you look at the face of the advertising industry in [the] 1960s as portrayed on the program ‘Mad Men’ and the face of the industry today, they look shockingly similar...Many industries in the country have moved on a lot since the’s quite amazing [advertising] has been such a holdout.”

We asked female professionals within the industry for their point of view!

Here is Hilary Joiner, Creative Director of Stripe, answering few questions for us on the topic.


Advertising is still like Mad Men was portraying it years ago – do you agree? And why?

When I started in advertising (in 1996) The very masculine male led Ad agencies were all very much revered, the concept of angry disagreeable, unapproachable creatives and Creative Directors was part of the advertising myth. It was celebrated and aspired to.

This kind of culture is very tribal and not an environment where most people will thrive. Especially women.

Sadly, I think this culture still exists, it’s regressive and old fashioned. But it’s becoming the minority, because these behaviours are less and less tolerated in a modern context and the output tends to be one dimensional and formulaic.

There are seeds of positive change mostly due to the fact no dominant single force can own the media where the consumer is now and simply because the more diverse and inclusive a work force is, the more diverse and inclusive the output is.

Have you or your company taken any action to improve gender equality in the industry?

Stripe as an agency has a majority female workforce and an all female board so as a company we’re native to promoting and supporting women and gender equality. Our leadership team mentor,  lead thought and initiatives around gender equality issues as well as actively promoting ourselves as role models in our various senior positions.

Juliet Simpson and Morna McLelland were part of a small team that brought WACL Gather to Scotland last September. A massive initiative to inspire and unite Women in Communications in Scotland.

As a female Creative Director and mother I do my best to nurture and mentor and share my knowledge. Yesterday I was recording for the podcast Greater than 11% - based on the statistic that only 11% Creative Directors are female bringing attention to this, promoting ambassadors within the industry and opening up and demystifying our jobs.

What project/campaign have you heard about and got the most inspired by?

Different campaigns and content have inspired me at different times depending on how ground breaking it feels. No matter what it is, it is always down to brilliant insight and creative. There is no other way to change perceptions.

Do you think the lack of female role models, especially successful creative directors who are mums, is the reason why there is less female than male in advertising / especially in director positions?

As a Creative Director who is a mother I am acutely aware of how difficult it is, and how few of us there are.

I certainly believe the more role models there are, the more we can inspire and encourage females into these roles. But the issue is not the lack of role models, it’s the difficulties females face in these roles where these cultures still thrive.

Check our our 'International Women's Day' series of blog posts:

International Women's Day 2020: What Women Want

International Women's Day 2020: Senior Women in the Industry

The Top 10 Moments for Women in 2020 ( So Far)

International Women's Day: Men as Active Allies