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This month saw the launch of inVisible Creatives, a grassroots initiative to fix the gender ratio in the advertising industry once and for all by creating the largest female creative database featuring work from all women around the world. 

In addition, they're asking ad agencies, headhunters and award shows to sign up to a pledge to use the database when searching for new talent, job candidates and speakers. 

With more than 200 portfolios already on the site, we  caught up with founders Maddy Kramer, senior art director at Saatchi & Saatchi New York, and Laura Visco, creative director at72andSunny Amsterdam, to find out more. 

Above: inVisible Creatives founders Maddy Kramer [left] and Laura Visco


How do you two know each other and when were the seeds of the idea for inVisible Creatives first sown? How long has the idea been in the making? 

Maddy Kramer: We met through SheSays Argentina, a Facebook page which gives female creatives the chance to talk about how they feel working in the industry. Laura & I started talking and felt that the industry was missing something essential, giving younger creatives a platform where they can get exposed. The projected started with a Google spreadsheet in June. We got a lot of books, so when we saw that the sheet was growing so fast, we decided to launch a website and give inVisible Creatives a proper platform.

 

Above: One of the site's featured 'Portfolios of the Month'


How much was the initiative's pledge inspired by Free The Bid?

MK: It’s been inspired by a combination of great platforms that are changing the industry such as Free The Bid and Where are the Lady Bosses. They made us question what we were doing to help the female creatives get more exposure. We felt that once you get to a certain level, it’s easier to get opportunities, but when you are a junior, senior or ACD, it can be harder to get noticed, so we wanted to show that there is a lot of great female talent out there. Also, we felt that need it to be global to find the statistics of which countries are not hiring female creatives. 


Have either of you personally experienced 'visibility' issues in getting jobs as female creatives?

Laura Visco: I started working in advertising when I was super young (19 years old), and I made myself invisible in the first four-five years of my career. I erased every female part of me to fit into the advertising world. I was a woman, yes. But I tried to "blend" with the guys as much as I could. I also had the feeling that I had to work harder to prove everyone that I deserved to be in the creative department. It took me a long time to understand that I didn’t behave like men and pretended to be someone else to fit in. I finally embraced the woman I am with pride.

MK: I started working in the industry seven years ago, and I was really lucky to work in different agencies and accumulate lots of different experiences. I felt that my visibility changed depending on the agency I was working at the time, which was determined by several factors. The smaller the agency, the more chances you have to get exposed, the bigger the agency the hardest it is to get visibility. I feel a lot of the times you need to “blend” into a more macho culture to get exposure. After years I realised that the more I can be true to myself, the more successful I would be.

 "A lot of the time you need to 'blend' into a more macho culture to get exposure."

You've already got 200 portfolios on the site; but are aiming to make it the largest database of female creative talent in the world - how do you intend to grow it as well as holding down your agency day jobs?

LV: We have clearly defined roles, so that makes it easier to manage. We also have the amazing Josefina Franci managing our social media channels and helping out with the website. Her portfolio was featured on the inVisible Creatives website [below], that’s how we met her. So we are already using our tool to find talent! She’s been great so far; we are really lucky to have her on board.

 


What have been the biggest challenges in getting the initiative off the ground? Has the reaction from the industry been 100 per cent positive?

MK: Getting the initiative off the ground was not as challenging as we thought it would be. I think the challenges will start when we need to get deep into each country and make sure each female creative is on our website, particularly when it comes to the countries with a smaller creative industry presence. Regarding the reaction, everyone has been super helpful so far, and we’re looking forward to working together to make a change in the industry.

 "[Diversity] is not a moral issue; it’s a creative one."

How do you intend to challenge any arguments about tokenism in response the pledge you're asking headhunters/recruiters/agencies to take?

LV: This is not about hiring more women just because they are women. It’s about making sure women are considered and added to scouting databases, so they have an equal chance of getting hired. Having more diversity regarding gender, age, background makes the work better. Diversity fuels creativity, we need very different eyes to look at creative problems in very different way. It’s not a moral issue; it’s a creative one.

 

 Interested? Click here to find out more or submit your portfolio.

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