Are We There Yet?

Originally published in Campaign US, Katie Puccio shares her thoughts on D&I and 'fragile internet men'

This interview was originally published on July 17, 2018 in Campaign US as part of their 'Are we there yet?' series, which asks industry insiders across all job levels and titles to share personal stories about equality, diversity and inclusion in adland.

Tell us about one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.

In the past few months, an ugly resurgence of "men’s rights" activists has led to women’s organizations, or groups that cater to female and non-binary communities, being targeted for discriminating against men.

From Ladies Get Paid being sued for hosting women-only events, to commenters leaving misogynistic and transphobic messages on SuperHi’s Instagram after the announcement that they were awarding summer course internships to women and non-binary folks, to The Wing being investigated by the NYC Human Rights Commission, women and organizations that support them are under attack for making space for other women and non-binary people to exist safely, free from judgement.

In my free time, my friend/coworker and I run Desk Lunch, a newsletter for creative women and non-binary people to share stories of their experiences in the industry. To this day, I am shocked that fragile internet men haven’t come for us for not sharing their stories as well. I know this day is on the horizon, and as the person who manages our social media, I know it will be intense and irrational.

Men’s rights groups that come for women send a larger message. These actions say, "not only are you not afforded a seat at our table, but if you try to start your own table somewhere else, we’re gonna snap that table’s legs." Fortunately, these organizations are strong and continue to fight back. Ladies Get Paid raised $115,418 to cover legal fees, SuperHi remained resilient in defending their scholarship, and The Wing continues to offer solid programming to female audiences.

How about something that proves we’re making progress?

At Cannes this year, it was announced that P&G, Publicis Groupe & HP were investing in Free the Bid. Free the Bid is a non-profit that advocates on behalf of women directors for equal opportunities to bid on commercial jobs in the global advertising industry. At Stink, we’re proud to have pledged to this initiative, and we’re glad to see it starting to gain traction.

It’s encouraging to see large, powerhouse companies realizing that giving women more opportunities to create and share their vision will only lead to more successful financial outcomes. It makes perfect sense from a business perspective to invest in women and other diverse perspectives, because it guarantees that all products can be marketed to their targeted populations in authentic ways. This doesn’t mean only hiring women directors for women’s products -- rather, quite the contrary: include women’s voices on all types of products to ensure a more accessible, inclusive tone from the very beginning.

More opportunities for women doesn’t equal less opportunities for men. Men have always had opportunities open to them. A woman getting her foot in the door is not doing so at the expense of a man -- she’s simply finding her own way into the room.

What else needs to be done to get there?

When women get into positions of power, especially white women, we need to use our privilege to advocate and normalize inclusion and equality. Think of it as being a spy on the inside. We need to prioritize the little things like directly hiring more women, suggesting women candidates to male hiring managers, advocating for the promotion of qualified women within your organization who may not advocate for themselves, and generally normalize these practices by enforcing them in our day-to-day.

It’s more than making sure other women don’t get interrupted or talked over in meetings. That is a great first step, but we need to make institutional changes if we want to see a shift in the paradigm.

– Katie Puccio, Brand Communications Manager at Stink Studios