After nearly three years in the making, Ad-women.com, the global search engine for finding women in the ad industry, officially launched on Thursday morning just one day before International Women’s Day.
The network, founded by TBWA Stockholm copywriter Lina Franzon and Volt in Stockholm art director Johanna Johansson, has registered 300 women based around the world so far (although they “hope for that number to explode”). Their titles range from full stack developer to content manager to account director, to name a few, but any woman in the advertising industry can create a profile free of charge.
“Our main goal is to highlight female talent in our industry,” Franzon said. “While all women in the register aren’t looking for a new placement, their presence might result in a job offer enabling them to put pressure on their employers and renegotiate their salary or position for the better. And one by one, they will shrink the depressive pay gap we see today.”
The launch comes on the heels of WPP’s 2018 gender wage gap report in the U.K., which revealed that its median pay gap increased to 14.9 percent last year from 14.5 percent in 2017. The holding company’s mean pay gap for 2018 was 23.7 percent, a decrease from 25.5 percent in 2017. (New regulations in the U.K. began requiring companies with more than 250 employees to report such information in 2017. The other holding companies have not yet released their gender pay gap reports.)
“If our industry keeps up with its excluding culture, women might steer clear, deciding this industry is not for them, and that would be an incredible loss,” Johansson added. “Since we know women to be in charge of a majority of the purchase decisions, our industry must be able to communicate with and understand them.”
Franzon and Johansson have been building this global search engine since 2017, a year after the duo first launched Kreatörskvinnor to find ad women in Sweden. Included on the site is a search function to find ad women to fill various roles, searchable by country, experience and title. There is also a blog where interviews, profiles and announcements will be posted on the women registered to the site.
In an earlier interview with Adweek, the women said they were sick of hearing the tired old excuse from male bosses of not being able to find the right female talent to fill open positions. They hope this tool will encourage men to consider all of the qualified women available to pick up these roles across the world.
Franzon said providing women in the industry with role models is an added plus.
“To us, that has always been an important part of the project, since women always have been a minority amongst the creatives at the agencies we’ve worked at, and female CEOs [were] rare as we entered the industry,” she explained. “Today, it’s finally beginning to change in Sweden, but looking at it from a global perspective, men still dominate the highest paid positions.”
Franzon and Johansson hope Ad-woman.com will finally inspire some change. The site is backed by 145 individuals and 20 agencies including TBWA Stockholm, 72andSunny, Volt, Saatchi & Saatchi, NORDDDB and ANR BBDO. Julia Wallin developed the site while Linnea Mesko designed it.