Over 200 women announced the launch of Time’s Up Advertising on Monday, an offshoot of the anti-sexual harassment initiative and defense fund Time’s Up, that aims to stamp out abuse in the advertising industry.
Beginning in late January, women in senior leadership positions in the advertising industry participated in a handful of meetups, phone calls, and emails about tackling gender discrimination in the workplace. The group quickly ballooned from 14 women to 200, asking each other tough questions about advertising’s power dynamics, where the industry is headed, and how to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the field.
Those pow-wows culminated in an official letter, calling for the advertising industry to end “old power dynamics” that enable sexual harassment and tackle the “lack of diversity” that holds women back from rising in their careers.
“As women in senior leadership positions in advertising, we’ve agreed that we have the power to change this business we love until it looks more like the industry we want to lead,” Time’s Up Advertising explained in its introduction letter. “Sexual harassment is not OK. Never. No exceptions. No amount of talent, missed cues, or being great in the room unchecks the No Sexual Harassment box.”
Time’s Up Advertising’s mission statement vows to “drive new policies, practices, decisions, and tangible actions that result in more balanced, diverse, and accountable leadership” across the industry. The organization also plans to examine why prior anti-discrimination practices and policies failed, create mentors in the industry to help foster diversity in the industry, and embrace “progressive agency training and education” that turns discussions on sexual harassment into an open dialogue.
This all starts with community gatherings on May 14 across several major advertising hubs throughout North America, from New York to Chicago to Toronto, as well as an online forum so women around the world can speak out.
Time’s Up Advertising isn’t just a first for the advertising industry; it’s also the first Time’s Up partnership geared toward ending sexual harassment in a specific industry. Here’s hoping it sparks future initiatives in other fields like media, medicine, and academia, which face their own ongoing struggles with sexual abuse.