From Elaine Cox, Executive Creative Director, 72andSunny New York
There’s something magical about NOT being the first female Executive Creative Director at your agency. I’ve been the first before. Being first feels like a win at first. But you quickly realize what it really means: that who you are–combined with what you do–is a rarity. The real goal is being one of many. That’s true gender equality.
Being one of many means you can do crazy things at work, like talking about stuff that actually matters to women. And create work that actually helps women, in a completely supportive environment. A stark contrast to one of my first advertising jobs where I was regularly the only female creative in the room… and any mention of anything remotely related to a “lady topic” was met with eye rolls and groans.
Cut to a few months ago. Along with some amazing partners, we wanted to address the fact that nearly 1 in 4 menstruators in America don’t have access to period care products–many having to make the brutal choice between buying food and having their dignity. Sadly you cannot use things like SNAP benefits to buy period products. In fact, there are no major government programs in place to support period care. And with that, our team brought forward a radical idea designed to help address the problem. LOOPHOLES CEREAL aims to put an end to period poverty through a legal loophole: by hiding period products as the prize inside cereal boxes (technically food!) Not only were there zero eyerolls when this idea was presented, but we had the agency’s full support.
At 72andSunny, seeing women in senior positions matters. We have women presidents (yes, that’s plural), department heads and female creative leadership around the globe. That doesn’t just lead to exciting work like LOOPHOLES, it also leads to better policies (like generous maternity leave) and creates a more flexible environment when it comes to PTO and setting boundaries for working hours. And maybe having more female leadership is exactly what can help slow down the growing number of women exiting the workforce. Fingers crossed.
I’m a new mom. I work with so many women who do an incredible job without sacrificing things like bedtime routines. I’m constantly learning from and being supported by people who do great work while being even better parents. I’m surrounded by women who have been the “first-female-insert-job-title” multiple times over. And I am inspired by them every day. By no means are we perfect, but I’m happy to be just one of many.
Of course much of this can feel small compared to what’s happening in Ukraine–a country in which International Women’s Day is one the most important holidays. Rather than the traditional celebrations honoring the contributions women have made to Ukraine and the world, this year all Ukranians are fighting for their future. Something all too familiar for many women.