A light bulb moment with Cindy Gallop

The third annual 3 Percent Conference took place in San Francisco last week, with over 400 delegates in attendance. Dedicated to supporting female leadership and promoting marketing to men, women and children from a place of understanding, the two day event was founded in 2012 by Kat Gordon, who was constantly baffled by the ways in which women were sidelined and overlooked in the industry. This year, in the spirit of visibility, attendees were encouraged to “tweet the fucking shit out of this conference” by keynote speaker Cindy Gallop.

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“The 3 Percent Conference is for me the single most important ad industry conference today, and the one that everybody in the industry, but most especially men, should be attending,” says Gallop, an entrepreneur and 3 Percent fixture. “You don’t realise how much our industry does not actively and consciously appreciate, welcome, value, celebrate and reward the power of female creativity, until you find yourself somewhere that does.”

The last couple of years have been eventful for Gallop, as she has endeavoured to get MakeLoveNotPorn, her female-fronted, sex-positive startup, off the ground. She remains committed to that mission, and these obstacles have only served to inform her annual 3 Percent sessions. “In 2012 I opened the first 3 Percent Conference with a keynote on the issues the conference was addressing,” she tells ogilvydo. “In 2013 I spoke about the micro-actions we can all take to tackle those issues, and this year I spoke about accelerants – three simple ways we can all effect real change within the coming year.”

What a difference a year can make

Gallop won’t be swayed by clichés such as “change takes time”, countering that “none of us have ten years… A decade is too long to watch the world be deprived of the talent and perspectives of female creative leadership.” In this year’s keynote, entitled ‘Why 2015 Won’t Be Like 2015: Changing The Ad Industry In the Next 12 Months’, she outlined the three things that we can all do to ensure we don’t just keep seeing the same old, same old.

The first step couldn’t be more simple; say what you think, when you think it. Time spent deciding whether to put your idea forward is time wasted – if you are at that table, Gallop reasons, then you are expected to contribute, so don’t hold back. Secondly, promote diversity through action, not just words. Gallop took the opportunity to guest-edit The Drum this year on the condition that she could hire all women writers to write entirely for women. The result was a special female-centric issue that was not intended or marketed as such.

And finally, as Gallop puts it, “light bulb it”. Use phrases such as “Have you noticed?” to highlight where positive things are happening, and to point out where there is a lack of diversity or relevant representation.  “The single key takeaway is that every single one of us has the power to transform the ad industry in the next 12 months,” says Gallop, “and if we all act on that, you’ll be amazed by where we’ll be in 12 months’ time.”

3 more light bulb moments from the conference:

  1. “Don’t be an asshole.” This little nugget is taken almost verbatim from Megan Meagher and Madelyn Sheldon’s seminar on building partnerships based on empathy and collaboration. Flexibility is also crucial to a lasting relationship, they say: “Be like water. When a water hits rock, it flows around it.”
  2. Get over yourself. According to TBWA’s global creative president Rob Schwartz, the best creative directors aren’t obsessed with calling everything “mine”, and are instead focused on putting the brand and the agency before their own narrative.
  3. Your company might benefit from taking the 3% challenge. How does your agency stand up under a gender audit? What percentage of your creative leadership consists of women?

For coverage of all the sessions, check out the 3 Percent Conference blog.

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