Time’s Up Advertising held its first meetings Monday—14 in 12 states and two countries—outlining its mission and initial steps it plans to take to tackle the industry’s pervasive problems with sexual harassment and gender inequality.
Part of the group’s New York session, which was moved to Hammerstein Ballroom over the weekend to accommodate more people, streamed live on Facebook before going dark just as the audience had an opportunity to speak openly about their experiences and address any concerns they may have had with the event’s organizers.
“We really have the power to change this industry we love until it becomes the one we want to lead and be proud of,” said DDB global CEO Wendy Clark, one of the 10 women on the Time’s Up Advertising steering committee who helped lead the New York meeting.
The other 13 steering committee members are Devika Bulchandani, McCann NY president; Jiah Choi, Anomaly L.A. partner and CEO; Lauren Crampsie, Ogilvy senior partner and global CMO; Colleen DeCourcy, Wieden + Kennedy global CCO; Daisy Expósito-Ulla, chairman and CEO of d expósito & Partners; Laura Maness, Havas NY CEO; Renetta McCann, Publicis Groupe chief inclusion experiences officer; Stacey Ryan-Cornelius, WPP Health & Wellness chief financial officer; Emily Sander, chair of advertising and branding at Savannah College of Art and Design; Sandra Sims-Williams, Publicis Group chief diversity officer; Deidre Smalls-Landau, evp, global chief cross-cultural officer of UM Worldwide and managing director of Identity; and Tiffany R. Warren, senior vp and chief diversity officer of Omnicom Group and founder and president of Adcolor.
On stage, leaders assured the audience that they plan to take Time’s Up Advertising past discussions and into real action. The seven points of focus for Time’s Up Advertising that the organizers outlined are: strategy and research, partnerships, employee-focused policy and programs, education and culture, pipeline and talent, fundraising and events.
While on stage, the group explained that those events would include meetings like the ones it held throughout the country yesterday. Fundraising efforts will be conducted in partnership with the National Women’s Law Center to help provide legal representation for women bringing lawsuits against their employers for harassment or related issues.
“Time’s Up Advertising is not a movement; it’s a call to action,” the organization said in an additional statement to Adweek. “We are focused on fixing our agencies, which means looking at and addressing the imbalance of power dynamics. We hear the comments about women being complicit or part of the problem and take them seriously. Our goal is progress, action and change—for everyone.”
The statement above served, in part, as a response to claims that some women involved in the Time’s Up group had themselves facilitated or engaged in abusive behavior.
Ultimately, the group continued, it will “be up to each individual agency” to create safe work environments for employees, meaning there will be no universal standards. The leaders who took the Time’s Up pledge said they will implement changes “small and large,” but that action will take some time as they hear feedback and concerns from women in the industry, as they did during the closed-door portion of yesterday’s meetings.
Best practices Time’s Up organizers said they would uphold at their agencies include creating an environment where every employee feels safe, motivated and valued for their work, where they can be creative, where they feel they belong and are not just included as part of a number, and where they know they can voice concerns and receive an appropriate and timely response from leadership.
Regarding the question and answer session that followed the livestream, Time’s Up Advertising only told Adweek that “the conversation covered a number of areas.”
Ahead of Monday’s meeting, the organizers of Time’s Up Advertising did come under fire for barring certain industry professionals from the event. Several women, many of them freelancers, were told that they could not attend due to restrictions that limited attendance to those who currently have full-time jobs at agencies. According to Instagram posts from Diet Madison Avenue, those who were initially denied entry also included women who have been fired from agencies in retaliation for reporting harassment or similar incidents.
After apologizing on its Facebook page (the full statement is below) before the events, Time’s Up Advertising made changes to allow for more attendees that included moving the New York meeting to Hammerstein Ballroom. And throughout the meeting, leaders repeatedly admitted to the mistake.
“Our intention is to make progress, but we have blind spots and we were called out,” Time’s Up Advertising said in its statement to Adweek. “We value progress over perfection. So if holding ourselves accountable and owning up to a mistake can help set the example for the industry, great.”
The group added, “Some key takeaways we learned and reiterated today: One, a democratic process doesn’t work when people are underrepresented. We don’t have enough women of all kinds at the table. Two, we heard feedback that we were being elitist by capping the original invite to women who work in advertising agencies. Our intention was imperfectly executed; we were trying to create a safe space for all, we learned from this. Three, bad behavior goes beyond gender. Attention to places where this is playing out is needed.”
Nina Shaw, entertainment lawyer and founding member of the original Time’s Up movement in Hollywood, also made an appearance at the New York event. She stressed the importance of supporting all women and noted that most who seek help with sexual harassment come from low-income backgrounds.
“It is so important that we keep this a movement for all of us,” Shaw said. “If you’re sitting in a room that is not diverse and inclusive, figure out a way to make it diverse and inclusive.”
Time’s Up Advertising will now be assessing the information gathered from the 14 meetings that occurred on Monday to determine next steps.