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Natalie Rastoin, president, Ogilvy Paris 


How important is International Women’s Day to you and your agency?

As part of our efforts this year we are putting on the spotlight on Ogilvy's female leaders and our female leadership community.  Our goal is for Ogilvy to inspire younger generations and come together to push for a more equal future. By using our network, we show that it’s not just about one person and that coming together can truly make a difference.

 

How do you think France compares with the rest of the world in regard to gender equality in adland?

In fact, France is not so different from other markets. There are less women in executive positions that we would expect. There is also a specific gap in creativity, starting from junior and middle positions, wich is a real issue for us. This is why Ogilvy launched a specific initiative to ensure, at a European level, that women are empowered to be creative leaders.

 

There seems to be no shortage of women on the executive side of things in French agencies; how present are women on the French production scene?

When it comes to production in France it’s true that there are less women. It seems that it’s even more common in cinema than in communication. Of course, we would like more women as directors, heads of production and so on. We could learn from professionals in the cinema industry in France, who are proposing requiring women quotas as a financing condition. It seems it is the only way to bridge the gender gap. As Viviane Reding said: "I don’t like quotas, but I like what they do."

  

What setbacks do you think women in advertising still face?

Unfortunately things are evolving so slowly that we are still facing the same issue: the fight to have a seat at the table. We need to show solidarity now more than ever, and remember what Madeleine Albright said: "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other. "

 

What advice do you have for other women currently rising through the ranks in advertising?

1. Stick to the principle that #NoMeansNo

2. Don’t let someone who talks louder than you steal your ideas

3. Take care of your inner energy to be mentally strong

4. And if you want more advice, go to #PressForProgress #Ogilvy

 

Bertille Toledano, CEO, BETC Paris 

How important is International Women’s Day to you and your agency?

Women’s Day is an important day because even though a lot of progress has been made considering gender equality, there is still a huge potential for progress. In many countries women have now gained the right to vote, to work, to drive a car, to divorce, to study, but gaining the right to such basic things is not the same as gaining power. Women are still leading very few countries, very few companies – in 2016, only 4,2% of the top 500 US companies were led by women.

At BETC we celebrate women’s day every day. There are very few companies where the power is so equally shared by men and women. Gender equality is one of the agency’s founding values. 

 

How do you think France compares with the rest of the world in regard to gender equality in adland?

This is a tricky question because at which level of the company pyramid do you believe gender equality should be? At management level there is, in general, still a majority of men.There are exceptions however: at BETC we are more women than men, even at the executive level, and other French agencies such as Publicis, BBDO and Ogilvy are also run by women. The other problem is that there’s still a massive deficit of women on the creative side in France. To really achieve gender equality in adland we need more women ECDs or CDs like in London, New York, Chicago, or LA.

 

What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome to get you to where you are today and how much do you think your gender played a part in this?

The biggest challenge I had to overcome has been to become a mum. When you give birth and during the first years with small children it is a very intense job to be as engaged in your professional life as in your personal life. For the first five years, I think many women often feel torn between their job and their children. I believe women are a lot more prone to feel guilty and responsible for this balancing act than men.

 

What advice do you have for other women currently rising through the ranks in advertising?

Invest in your personal organisation. Women often feel guilty and they try to do everything by themselves. In fact, in order to rise and to be part of the top management you have to be cool, calm and capable of taking big decisions with serenity. In order to gain in serenity you have to gain in comfort.

 

Valérie Accary, president, BBDO Paris

 

How important is International Women’s Day to you and your agency?

Last year, we launched Omniwomen in France to enable more women to reach leader roles within our Omnicom agencies. The first year has been successful and has generated a lot of ideas, including the launch of our first mentorship programme across all Omnicom agencies in France. BBDO is very active within Omniwomen and we look forward to celebrating this mentorship launch in a big way.

 

What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome to get you to where you are today and how much do you think your gender played a part in this?

I did not feel that being a woman was a handicap till I reached a 'number two' role in my agency. However becoming 'number one' has been a different story. The French culture favours a number two role for women, which may come from our old monarchy model in which there were only kings! By becoming CEO, I had to overcome some external challenges – while most men were absolutely fine with it, I had to deal with one or two men who just could not accept having a woman as their boss. I also had to believe in myself – my big personal win has been to accept that failure can be an option.

 

What setbacks do you think women in advertising still face?

Managing professional and personal life is still an issue, in particular with kids. This is why more leading women and men should help shape agencies so that it enables a better life for all.  Salary equality should be compulsory. And agencies should enable more women to reach the highest jobs on the creative side, and now on the data/tech side. There is a risk that women continue to be working in advertising but miss the upcoming rising jobs. Constant training and opportunities are key.

 

What advice do you have for other women currently rising through the ranks in advertising?

Firstly, I would like to encourage women to continue their journey in advertising or any creative company. We often see women who think it takes too much sacrifice to become a leader. In many cases they limit their ambitions and prefer to keep a good balance in their life, in particular when they have kids. My message is: on the contrary, please continue to believe in you and your potential. Connect with other women, find a great mentor and, together, work at impacting the whole company so that it is a better place to work and live in for both women and men. I think that leading women can help shape agencies so that they become more diverse, more open, better to live in and creating room for a balanced life.

 

Elisabeth Billiemaz, president, HUMANSEVEN

How important is International Women’s Day to you and your agency?

To dedicate a day of the year to women's issues belongs to the past and the debate that the industry is having around gender equality is bigger than Women's Day. This issue is at the center of many discussions in the workplace (around diploma, titles, responsibilities, wages) and in our daily life (#MeToo, #BalanceTonPorc ['Expose Your Pig']).

 

How do you think France compares with the rest of the world in regard to gender equality in adland?

In France, we have a professional body, the ARPP, which is tasked with checking all ad campaigns before they air and collecting complaints. Their mission is for all commercials to be appropriate for general audiences. However, there are some ads that verge on the territory of bad taste and we still see some campaigns portraying women as objects, showing extremely skinny bodies or inciting viewers to dangerous behaviour. It is a daily grind to work against those but the era of sexist ads is definitely behind us. We have to celebrate this evolution that happened in the span of 20 years. This shows real hope for the future.

 

What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome to get you to where you are today and how much do you think your gender played a part in this?

Women are naturally adept at multitasking. Optimisation and organisation are second nature to them. This has been an advantage for me. Women are also naturally inclined towards collaboration. This is particularly helpful as it is becoming central to the way that we work. At HUMANSEVEN, we try to foster collaboration. That's why we've launched a partnership with Anticafé coworking spaces, with the idea of creating new ways of working between our employees and with our clients. I would also say that women know how not to let emotions get the best of them but to take advantage of them in order to engage in patient and continuous diplomacy to help achieve positive results.

 

What advice do you have for other women currently rising through the ranks in advertising?

I would tell them to use their organisation skills and their real world savviness (as mum, wife, single woman ...) as strengths. Use your life and your sensitivity to identify the right insights. You need to believe that you belong in the position that you have. Don't underestimate yourself. Women can sometimes be their own obstacle. Don't worry, you will be able to find solutions to manage your time. Overcoming your doubts will give you the strength required to rise high.

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