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Dismantling the creative gender gap in PR – Greg Jones, Creative Director, Mischief PR

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At Mischief we believe that a good idea can come from anywhere, regardless of position, experience or background – and certainly regardless of gender. I’m sure that belief doesn’t set us apart from any other PR agency worth its creative salt, but it does lead on to an interesting question – why are there (relatively) few female creative directors in PR?

As a male PR Creative Director I wrestle with whether I’m best qualified to explore (or even raise) this topic. But as someone who passionately believes that a diversity of employees –and, by extension, a diversity of experiences, attitudes, perspectives and beliefs – delivers the greatest creative output, the gender inequality of PR CDs is something that bothers me.

I do want to point out at this stage that at Mischief we have four people in our creative team – two Creative Directors and two Creatives – all of whom are men. We recently recruited the fourth member of this team and made a concerted effort to ensure that we interviewed an equal number of men and women for the role. However, as the process unfolded we realised that the majority of PRs who have – or are seeking – roles with ‘creative’ in the title are men. That’s not to say we didn’t interview any female creatives – we did and we were keen to move two of them to the next stage of the process but unfortunately their circumstances changed – but the significant majority of the candidates we interviewed were men.

Ultimately, we’ve hired a fantastic (male) Creative who is doing a great job, but I can’t help wondering how having a female Creative would have brought a different perspective to the agency and our diverse client portfolio (anything from BAE to the FA, LEGO to Asda and Meantime to Wilkinson Sword). That’s not to say we don’t draw on the many creative, bright, insightful women at Mischief to help crack these challenges – we certainly do – but it’s not quite the same as a woman whose sole focus is coming up with compelling creative leading the response to those briefs.

For me it makes sense that that if we’re developing a campaign with women as a key target audience, female creative input is essential. Equally, a female creative perspective is a vital counter-balance to the predominantly male creative viewpoint, regardless of brief or target audiences.

Which then begs the question what can be done to redress this gender imbalance? In response I can only talk about the efforts we’re making here at Mischief. For me it starts where this article started – by empowering everyone at the agency to believe in – and nurture – their own creative potential. We are also going to great lengths to reassure the women in the agency who are keen to move into creative roles that just because we’re an all-male team at the moment it’s not through bias or prejudice – and that gender is no barrier to becoming a Creative/CD at Mischief.

I work closely with the women here who want to further develop their creative potential, whether that’s working one-on-one with them tackling client briefs or provide mentoring and guidance as to how they could move into a Creative role.

As a former Creative Director herself, Mischief CEO Frankie Cory is ideally placed to help inspire the next generation of female Creatives at the agency and our Head of Insight and Strategy, Gemma Moroney, is also able to provide guidance for the women at Mischief who are keen to move into more ‘dedicated’ roles (such as Creative).

I am heartened by the fact that the Mischief duo which won the recent UK Young Lions competition was a man and a woman, that our Creative Shootout team for 2018 comprised of two men and two women, and that our previous three Shootout teams of 2016 and 2017 overall comprised more women than men.

A discussion of the systemic, societal or personal barriers that might be preventing women from becoming Creative Directors is probably best raised by someone more qualified than me on the subject. But as an immediate call to action I encourage all of us who hold senior creative roles in PR to help dismantle whatever barriers might be in place in their own agencies in order to help dismantle the creative gender gap of the industry as a whole.