News | Insight | Inspiration

  • Log in
  • Subscribe ?

    Full access to including:

    • Full access to all news, interviews & insight
    • Manage video content
    • Create your own showreels
    • Follow people and companies and be alerted to new content posted on
    • Save and share folders
    • Full archive access
    • Access to Hotshots
    • Company Directory
    • People Directory
    • Breaking News stories
    • Newsletter x3 per week
  • Register ?


    • Breaking News stories
    • Newsletter x3 per week (restricted access to stories)
    • Company Directory
    • Limited access to news, interviews & insight
Y&R Execs on 'The Value of Female Leadership'

Y&R Execs on 'The Value of Female Leadership'

Leading ladies from Y&R tell us why the future is female.

On Wednesday June 20, some of the top women creatives of Young & Rubicam are taking to The Forum stage (11:00 - 11:45) to talk The Value of Female Leadership. In the lead-up to the talk, the three Y&R panel members spoke to shots about what women bring to the workplace.

Nieves Durán, managing director at Y&R Madrid



Why is it important to have conversations about female leadership in Cannes?


Gender inequality is a systemic and structural problem in society and in the creative industry. You only need to look at the facts: women represent 58% of advertising graduates in Spain, but only 14% will become creative director and just 1% of managing creative directors are female.  

Advertising, in spite of being a leading edge sector with the capability of shaping culture is well behind other businesses in terms of equality. We have learnt the talk but we have to put it into practice. 

Female leadership will also contribute to generating more work in favour of diversity and disruptive of stereotypes, a responsibility we all have as an industry. 


What has been the biggest change in the state of female leadership since Cannes last year?


Women are supporting each other more and creating stronger networks to promote gender equality. We have a louder voice and are more visible in society in general, but also in sectors traditionally masculine, such as technology, politics or finance. 

In advertising, networks such us SheSays, The 3 % Conference, See it, be it or Más Mujeres Creativas in Spain have become more widely known and are more influential. 


What is the biggest challenge you personally have faced as a woman in the workplace?


Being expected to act more like a man when working in organisations that operated under very masculine cultures. This means you are expected to work and lead in consistency with a set of values and behaviours traditionally associated to men. Traits such as collaboration, listening and not imposing your own ideas can turn out to be read as weakness in organisations that are not ready for it. 


If you had one piece of advice to give women in the workplace, what would it be?

We recently conducted some workshops in the agency on gender issues and talked to young female creatives on how they saw their future in advertising. A majority of them thought they would have to give up on their career aspirations in the face of maternity, with people saying “advertising is not compatible with a family”. 

We need to change the perception that maternity is not compatible a successful career and set the bases to make it possible. 

So my advice is,  don’t give up on your future career because you think you are not going to find work/life balance, instead fight for it, change things, claim for flexibility and accountability at the workplace and for support at home. You don’t have to be the main and only caretaker; the evenings do not need to be the most creative time at work.  

Tereza Sveráková, chief creative officer at Y&R Prague


Why is it important to have conversations about female leadership in Cannes? 


One of my favourite politicians, Madeleine Albright, mentioned in a keynote speech: There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.” And I believe that starting these conversations can help inspire and encourage other women on their career path. 


What has been the biggest change in the state of female leadership since Cannes last year? 


In the past couple of years the topic has become more widely discussed, as more women are getting into leadership positions. The opportunities are becoming equal for both females and males. Which is great. However, my little biting comment would be that the old stereotype of dominant men should not turn into new stereotype pushing everywoman to become a leader. I believe that the future  is having the freedom to do anything you want. And to the diversity created by the close cooperation and mutual respect between males and females. 


What is the biggest challenge you personally have faced as a woman in the workplace? 


One potential problem was solved by the generosity of my husband who went on parental leave and allowed me to continue in pursuing my career. That way neither my work nor my family had to suffer. And I wanted both to thrive. Maybe I was just very lucky, or didnt want to see it, but I never faced any challenges in the workplace because of being a woman. My mother was a successful film director so having her as a role model, I grew up believing that a womans career is determined only by two things: whether she wants it and whether she is good enough. 


If you had one piece of advice to give women in the workplace, what would it be? 

Bring on board all the good characteristics us women have. Excelling at taking care of others, listeningbeing able to put your ego aside. Create a collaborative partnership with your male colleagues that benefits from the qualities of both genders. Because there is nothing more fruitful then diversity. 


What else are you looking forward to at Cannes? 

Meeting my friends from all around the world, Cannes is almost the only opportunity to get together. But most importantly, reviewing the work. Where else do you find the time to stop and go over best pieces of the last year?


Arzu Unal, CEO at Y&R Turkey



Why is it important to have conversations about female leadership in Cannes?

It is critical to talk about female leadership in Cannes as we need to be aware that our industry is not in a better state on this issue. Actually, it is worse than other industries.

On creative ground, it is even worse. Let's not assume that everything is fine and we are ok. We are not. Cannes is where we all gather and look at future and new horizons. It is also our duty to face our current problems and try to solve these in a creative way.

By 2028 women will control 75% of discretionary spending worldwide... Global income of women are expected to grow twice the global GDP growth... Women are our biggest target audience, they are the ones who will be paying our salaries but we do not have a fair representation of women in our industry i.e. only 4% of all Creative Directors are women. This is a huge gap that we need to be aware and act upon immediately.


What has been the biggest change in the state of female leadership since Cannes last year?


Almost all agency networks and holding companies have acted on this matter since last year. They also commited their diversity targets and publicly announced these. This is not a nice to have issue but a “must”. I am leading gender equality initiative for Y&R Europe. We have so many male leaders in our group committed to support equality in workplace and mentor female rising stars all the way to leadership. 

I am confident that young talent will only work at companies where diversity is a fact of life not a wishlist item. 


What is the biggest challenge you personally have faced as a woman in the workplace?


Being my self, my authentic self has been my biggest challenge in workplace. It took me a while to understand that I was acting with third fourth generation businessmen traits.

Sadly, these were businessMEN traits. Drastically my male business partner complimented me saying how great that I am almost 50% male. Then in my professional journey I realized that sincerity and honesty "being true to your authentic self" is key to leadership. There is no one male defined pattern for leadership. You achieve more, be more successful and feel more comfortable in your own skin, in your own business enviroment. 

This is a point where you reach leadership from within ...


If you had one piece of advice to give women in the workplace, what would it be? 

It is a blessing to be a woman on the road to leadership. 66% of all adults believe world would be a better place if men thought more like women. Leadership is also evolving towards feminine traits which are strongly correlated to leadership than masculine traits. Like being patient, collaborative, being empthathetic, being intuitive, flexible and expressive. (ref: Athena Doctrine) These are naturally inherited, owned traits of women. Future is bright, future is Female.


What else are you looking forward to at Cannes?

As stated by UN Women when women are included in peace processes there is a 35% increase in the probability of an agreement lasting 15 years, so listening to the Nobel Peace Prize winner and President of the Republic of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos and Jack Leslie’s lessons from the Colombian civil war and how to crack the world’s hardest brief – peace making – will be very interesting. 

Building an inclusive society is one of the biggest issues this year. Reverend Jesse Jackson will be very mind opening on this topic.

One of this past year’s most interesting “synergy” - partnership were Dame Helen Mirren and L’Oreal. It will be interesting listening to their discussion on redefining diversity and inclusivity. 

Christine Lagarde and Maurice Lévy’s discussion on whether “creativity can change the world?” can open up the minds. I strongly believe in creativity for a better world.





Latest news

Look for the follow button…

Simply visit a person or company profile and hit the Follow button image“Follow this person / company" button to receive regular emails when they are mentioned on the website.