In recent weeks, a blog post about misogyny and harassment faced by women in the ad industry has become a talking point in the sector.
Zoe Scaman’s blog (since covered by the Guardian and the Independent) is a reminder that plenty of women still want (and need) to talk about their experiences of sexual harassment in the industry. Sometimes concerns are historical and it can feel difficult for agencies to do anything about past behaviour (particularly when staff have moved on) but allowing employees to “speak-up” is critical. Lewis Silkin has worked with clients since #metoo, training leaders and managers on awareness, creating psychological safety and shifting the culture, but as importantly working with employees on “speaking-up”. This has resulted in many clients facing the uncomfortable truth they have a toxic workplace culture or there are micro-cultures that centre around one or two badly behaved individuals.
In the UK, the use of NDAs in cases of harassment and discrimination is restricted and covered by guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (see our article here) and advice should always be sought about their appropriateness. The blog also serves as a reminder that unstructured pay and role architecture can often result in women being paid less than comparators and that involves both material legal and reputational risk.
An external facilitator creates a supportive environment for agency leadership to listen, really listen, and employees to be heard. We know that the fight for talent retention continues, can you really afford for 50% of your employees to walk out the door, either to your competitors or the industry completely?
Hundreds of women working in advertising have described being sexually assaulted, harassed and discriminated against, after a blog provoked an outpouring of fury that is being described as the industry’s #MeToo moment.