Why The Drum Dream Awards will be celebrating The Creative Woman of the Year

  • Ali Hanan

Launched in 2015, The Drum Dream Awards is about those who dare to dream big, championing creative excellence around the world. This year, for the first time, with Creative Equals – the kitemark of gender equality for the creative industry – the Dream Awards' vision just got bigger. The Dream Awards will celebrate the industry’s leading female creative talent, with its inaugural ‘Creative Woman of the Year’ award. - Written by Ali Hanan

You can hear it now. Some will say 'Really, it's 2016, why such an award?' But the fact is until we have a gender equal stage – and we’re still a long, long way from this in the UK – it's important to make creative women visible. Creative Equals’ research with the Young Creative Council showed 88 per cent of young female creatives say they lack role models – and 50 per cent are already considering leaving the industry.

"There are so few of us at the top," says Vicki Maguire, executive creative director of Grey London, "so women don't see what they can be. They need to understand one day this could be them – and to get there involves doing brave, bold, show-stopping work that gets them on the radar of the best agencies in London, the world."

So are the figures behind this? In a data crunch of the Cannes Lions archive, the Razorfish and Contagious 2016 study, ‘Cracking the Code of Creativity’, showed women are massively under-represented in entered and winning work (11 per cent of the winning entries featured a female creative director). Worse, they revealed the percentage of women holding senior creative roles had actually decreased over the last 10 years, from 9.9 per cent to 9.8 per cent. The 53 top names for award winning entries belonged to men.
"I’ve been in the industry for 30 years on a London and global stage," says Ian Haworth, executive creative director at Wunderman and Dream Awards judge. "Throughout the years, I've sat on juries with zero women, I've worked in agencies with zero female leaders, but the fact is this has been an issue for a long time. I signed up to Creative Equals on the day Creative Equals’ founder Ali Hanan came. The truth is change will not come without an industry-wide action plan to address it. The Drum’s Dream Award will create a goal – and a role model to follow."

In the UK, from the IPA’s research, just 24.6 per cent of creative departments are staffed by female creatives, which means those who make it to leadership positions are very few, around 14 per cent from Creative Equals’ research. And, of course, when it comes to counting female chief creative officers in London, you’re counting on your fingers.

One of those creatures as rare as Pokemon Go’s ‘Mew’ is Nicky Bullard, chairman at MRM Meteorite. "It's vitally important we celebrate those women who are pushing through. Talent, as we have learnt through experience, isn't the only strength you need to be a creative female and succeed. Tenacity and self-belief are handy too."

Having a balanced point of view leads to better work, says Simon Gill, a judge and chief creative officer of Isobar. "During my career I've been fortunate to work alongside talented female creatives at all levels. This categorically contributed to a superior creative product and working culture as a result. Striving for diverse representation in creative departments makes clear business and creative sense."

To reverse this, we have to create real frameworks for change. This includes everything from changing from HR policy to workplace culture and the way we train and support female creatives throughout their careers so we can create more pathways to leadership roles – and that includes sitting on awards’ juries.

To address the change, Creative Equals has set up an affordable night school for the autumn to train young talent, created the first ‘shadow jury’ of its kind with BIMA, provided two Major Players’ Helen Stokes Internship scholarships for women from low socio-economic creatives with D&AD – and signed up some of London’s most influential agencies, influential agencies, including Wunderman, R/GA, DigitasLBi AnalogFolk, Grey London and Mr President. "And now Creative Equals delighted to partner with The Drum," says Becky McOwen-Banks, non-executive director of Creative Equals and FCB Inferno creative director.

Dave Buonaguidi, chief creative officer at Crispin Porter + Bogusky concludes: "It's great to see Creative Equals and The Dream Awards and creating real change rather than just barking on about it. The idea that we need something like this is bizarre, because any progressive industry in the 21st century should be diverse, but as we know ours is still decades away from that. Having a 'Female Creative of the Year' will without doubt inspire younger and more relevant talent into the business and help turn it into a more balanced industry."
- Written by Ali Hanan, 27th July 2016, The Drum

Ali Hanan is founder of Creative Equals, the gender diversity kitemark of the creative industry which can be found on Twitter @creativeequal.