International Women's Day

With International Women's Day this Sunday (8th March), we sat down with MerchantCantos CEO, Matt Shepherd-Smith to talk about equality in the workplace.

What does equality in the workplace mean to you?

It means two things. Firstly, that no-one should ever fear, or experience discrimination. Everyone in any situation should be treated fairly regardless of their gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation or nationality. And secondly, true workplace equality makes for a better working environment, both culturally and commercially.

Have you seen much change in the way that women are viewed in the workplace during the course of your career? Are things becoming more equal?

Yes. I think that gender stereotypes have broken down, and that skills and contributions are increasingly recognised regardless of gender. In most creative organisations there has always been a good gender balance, but that balance has not always been seen at a more senior level. I am pleased to see that this is changing, and the efforts of organisations such as Institute of Practitioners in Advertising are helping to drive an improvement in diversity, particularly at a C-suite level.

Is there any powerful creative that you've seen which brings this subject to life?

There are many, and they come from big global businesses as well as smaller charities. P&G and Unilever should be applauded for the great sentiment behind many of their campaigns, and likewise so should many smaller organisations. State Street Capital got the world to sit up and take notice when they put Fearless Girl on Wall Street, and I also love the Sport England “This Girl Can” campaign, and #GirlsCount from ONE is also inspiring.

How do you see the issue rising up the agenda in the work we deliver for our clients?

Our ESG advisory and campaign work continues to grow, with the many different types of reporting at the heart of that. It is essential that all organisations are addressing any shortcomings in the area of I&D, and as long as there are issues to be resolved we will be happy to advise on how to solve them. 

Photo credit: Zoe Austin @zoeaustinphotography 

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