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Going Beyond Gender with the 3% Conference

Going Beyond Gender with the 3% Conference

The 3% Movement was born as a reaction to the fact that in 2012 only 3 percent of creative directors and advertising leadership were female. Just 3 percent — and the numbers were (and are) even worse for people of color. The good news is that positive change is possible — women now account for 29% of creative leadership in agencies. But having more women making decisions isn’t enough. We need to bring even more diversity to the table. Whether it’s racial, cultural, sexual orientation, age-related, or differently abled, high diversity fuels creativity and boosts business performance. Diversity = Creativity = Profitability.


We are in a moment of truth. If we want meaningful change in this industry that goes beyond performative, it’s going to take unflinching honesty to see how we’ve been passive and complicit in the lack of diversity. We have to look at ourselves fully, even if it hurts.

Especially if it hurts.

There’s so much more we can do. So much more we can be.

This is our time.

Typhanee Vreen
Account Director


This year felt different, because the conference decided to take it beyond gender.

I’ve always believed that more diverse teams make for better work. But this year’s conference left me thinking about what diversity and inclusion really means — and it’s much more complex. Females are only a part of it — it extends to so many other marginalized communities: socio-economic, ethnic, LGBTQ, older employees, and those with disabilities. The topics felt rawer, fewer answers were available, and many of us were left questioning ourselves and our own violations.

As a female ECD of color who’s also a mom, I have never seen a lot of folks who look like me in this industry. So this should be more obvious but embarrassingly, it wasn’t — not enough.

Pam Fujimoto
Executive Creative Director


This year I left the 3% Conference with more knowledge, more inspiration, and feeling more fired up than I could have imagined. The passion of each speaker is running through my veins as I get back to work, my mind racing over what we can do to better champion diversity and be a place that attracts more women — in particular, LGBTQ women and women of color. One of the sessions that most resonated with me was about “covering.” I didn’t know what that was before this session and now I’m determined to be an ally to those who use it as a coping mechanism to get through their daily lives. People who “cover” downplay a part of their identity or a personality trait, hiding it from their officemates, bosses, to protect themselves from stigma. It can be expressed in many different ways, for many reasons that involve someone’s ethnicity, sexual orientation, and mental health, to name a few. The key takeaway for me was around creating a safe space for people to bring their whole selves to work. Things like offering transgender benefits, mental health support and diversity support groups can signal to your employees that they are welcome to express who they are without fear of shame and criticism — and happy employees are better employees. As we heard from so many of the speakers at 3%, lack of diversity is holding agencies back. Our industry needs to reflect our multidimensional society in order for business to thrive.

Kinley Lagrange
Account Director


My two days at 3% were a full-on emotional rollercoaster. I felt excitement, curiosity, shame, joy, frustration, anger, like I was in a nightclub at 8 a.m., and tearful inspiration. But then it was over, and I had to ask myself “Where do I even start?”

Here is where I’m going to start.

I have an 11-year-old daughter. I want her to do what she loves, which may or may not be advertising. But I don’t want the insane hours, threat of sexual harassment, or the lack of inspiration and purpose in our industry to keep her from it.

So that is my goal now in everything I do. To help make advertising an industry that our daughters are truly fired up to work in.

One that’s equally inclusive not just to all genders, but to all races and sexual orientations, too.

An industry where success and balance are not mutually exclusive. One that demands and rewards our creative insights, but also respects that family and life outside of work fuels that creative fire.

An industry that continues to do more and more work that connects with people on a deep level, incites social change, and to roughly quote the wise and eloquent 10-year-old Leela Ting, “speaks to our souls.”

Let’s do it for our daughters.

If we start there, we’ll all come out ahead.

Jennie Moore
Creative Director


“If there’s only one woman in your candidate pool, there’s statistically no chance of her being hired.”

This little quote stopped me in my tracks. Carter Murray, Worldwide CEO of FCB, was referencing a 2016 study reported in Harvard Business Journal, which found the same to be true when there was only one black candidate in the pool as well.

This means that if you have four candidates for a job, and only one is a minority, then that individual has statistically a ZERO percent chance of being hired.


Not 25 percent. Zero percent.

This isn’t just an HR problem. It’s a business problem and solving it starts with embracing the idea that it’s incumbent upon all of those involved in the hiring process to look beyond the one- or two-degrees-of-separation candidates to upend the status quo.

Hiring managers, you have the power to change the industry.

Lara Johannsen
Creative Manager

thought leadership / public good