More female voices will be heard and considered in advertising and media if agencies “overhire” and enact their own mentoring programs. Then there’s the hard reality that money still talks, according to Nancy Reyes.
“Demand it from your agencies, demand it from your media partners, and threaten to withhold the dollars unless they fulfill that demand, because that’s how the world works,” says the President of TBWA\Chiat\Day NY. “It’s powered entirely by money.”
One of the more widely known industry efforts for accurate portrayals of girls and women in advertising and media is the #SeeHer movement started by the Association of National Advertisers in 2016, the same year Reyes started at TBWA\Chiat\ Day NY. In this interview with Beet.TV, Reyes talks about the need for female influence in the creative process and the agency’s Circle of Women mentoring program that Reyes has spearheaded.
“In marketing, media and advertising we pride ourselves on being a microcosm of the larger world,” Reyes says. “And we can’t pride ourselves on being that microcosm if we actually don’t reflect what the real world looks like. So without that woman’s voice in the creative process or any part of the process, we’re not really being genuine to the mission we have.”
That necessitates not only mentoring younger talent at agencies but looking for different kinds of talent in places agencies have overlooked, according to Reyes, who rose from Managing Director to President of TBWA\Chiat\Day NY in July of this year.
“I don’t think that women, I don’t think women of color, I don’t think they’re all hiding in some secret place that we all haven’t found,” says Reyes. “I think they’re probably right in front of us the entire time but we have to grow them and nurture them and develop them in ways that we haven’t really been doing in the past.”
Going a step further, Reyes advocates “over-hiring” such prospects “because we have to correct the system. In over-hiring, I think if we can mentor these folks and develop them, then we will even it out in a better way.”
The agency’s Circle of Women initiative began after executives asked female employees what they needed and how they felt about being a woman in the business. “Their main feelings were around a lack of voice, a lack of presence and a lack of confidence,” Reyes says.
Circle of Women identified 17 women “on the cusp of leadership” and gave them free executive coaching. In return they were asked to mentor two to three women underneath them “so that in that way we would constantly create this everlasting pipeline of female leaders. The most important thing for me is more than half of the 17 are women of color.”
As for demanding more inclusion from companies with which agencies work, Reyes says, “we have to put our money where our mouth is on the topic.”