Ad land has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this month. In case you missed it (and I'm not sure how you could have), a departing planner emailed his entire agency on his last day to list his "Top Five" and "Bottom Five" female employees by their looks.
The email was leaked and the backlash against the planner was scathing. He tweeted that the email was "meant to be a stupid, ironic attempt to subvert and mock the sexist "Top Five" emails that have been sent around agencies for many years" but went on to apologise profusely for his "unforgivable naivety and being further complicit in contributing to an outdated and oppressive culture for women".
Despite the extensive media scrutiny of women's workplace issues during 2017, it seems that some old sexist habits have proven hard to break. But it's great to see a prompt and firm response to this example of a rather anachronistic ad land "tradition".
Sarah Golding, CEO of the agency in question, says she has taken action to ensure that nothing like this will ever happen again within the agency. In addition, Sarah is also taking steps to address the issue across the industry in her role as IPA President.
To that end, the IPA will be introducing a new Code of Conduct for advertising agencies which will "outline what objectification means and give advice on what acceptable work behaviours look like in order to stop any activities that objectify men or women".
Good news and hopefully a way of ending this story on a positive note, as any measures which aim to tackle a practice which no longer has a place in any industry should be welcomed.
For more information on what Lewis Silkin is doing as a firm to help achieve long-lasting improvement in women’s experience of work, take a look at our #aLastingChange campaign - full details available here.
The IPA is introducing a Code of Conduct for agencies to use in their employment policies on bullying and harassment issues, including objectification. The move follows the leak of an email sent to the whole of The & Partnership's London office listing the ‘Top Five’ and ‘Bottom Five’ female employees by their looks. The email, which garnered national media attention, was sent by a departing planner.