3% Conference Tells It Like It Is

On Thursday, September 24, the 3% Conference  was hosted at the Pacific Northwest College of the Arts’ impressive new home.  A blend of designers, photographers, directors, producers; it was an influential gathering ready to bring awareness to that ratio of male to female creatives in advertising and media. At the time of the first conference (in 2008), it was 3% female to 97% male. That difference has narrowed a bit: presently, it stands at 11% female to 89% male.

Let’s be clear, this is not a hate fest. Men and women alike are invited to be part of the 3%. The meeting focuses on two key issues: fact-based educating about the realities women face as creative professionals, and collectively finding solutions to effectively equalize the standing statistics. The goal is to produce more efficient creative solutions — those which will lead to agencies and brands saving money and time on dead-end campaigns that, though creative, miss their demographic due to lack of diversity in the teams that develop and execute them. If you’re assuming this topic is for women only, you are missing out on an inspiring meeting of the minds — delivered through storytelling, and mixed with a dash of clever humor.



The first speaker was an informal and compassionate Dan Wieden, one of the founders of Wieden+Kennedy. To say he had the audience on the edge of their seats is an understatement. Dan is what 3% Conference founder Kat Gordon calls a ‘manbassador’!  With utmost sincerity, he emotionally expressed his position in an opening statement: “I really don’t have the answers you deserve.”  He continued to inform us all that the best thing he ever did in his career was to surround himself with women: “Because they set out to look at the world so differently from men, and that vision is key to successful campaigns.”

A ‘manbassador’ is one speaking up to change the ratio of 3% women in creative to an equal 50/50.  Not only does he support females in the creative workforce verbally, but he’s a guy who mentors, hires, and sticks his neck out for women.  He also calls BS on exclusion of the female voice in advertising and media.  Oh yeah, and hey look, you can download this quick-witted Bingo game that will teach you all the different ways you, or your guy friend, can become one too!



The esteemed lineup of speakers gave spirited talks inciting change not only within the workplace, but in one’s own attitude. Rather than go through a play-by-play of the day here (there’s a good one on the W+K blog ), here are a collection of quotes from the conference. I’m calling them ‘3%isms’.  Peppered throughout, you will find links to learn even more about how you can take charge of leading your agency toward more effective campaigns. In fact you can right now. Post this prolific list  — called ‘100 Things’  — above the water dispenser today!

As 3% puts it, “Prepare to be wowed!”.

Tweetable 3%isms

* “I swear to God women see the world differently.” – Dan Wieden

*  “Women control 80% of consumer spending.” – 3%

*  “71% of women don’t believe ads are speaking to them.” – 3%  

*  “Diversity + creativity = profitability.” – 3%

*  “We are more powerful when diverse.” – Dan Wieden

*  There is no downside to increasing the number of women in creative director positions.” – Kat Gordon

*  “Diversity is the best thing to happen to creativity.” – Kat Gordon

*  “#1 Issue facing agencies is diversifying talent.” – Kat Gordon 

*  “Women have a better change of being an underwater welder than being a female director.” – Sarah Shapiro

*  “Never explain, never apologize, never insult yourself.” – Sara Shapiro

*  “Don’t be reckless, but do be relentless.” – Ann Sachs

*  “Nobody wants to hang out with bitter people.” – Amy Sachs

*  “You don’t do it alone.” – Intisar Abioto

*  “Keep asking, ‘How do we speak to women?”. – Julie Igarashi

*  “Go a little rogue and don’t ask for permission.” – Julie Igarashi

*  “Find a mentor.” – Patricia Choi

*  “Support women.  Support each other.” – Mira Kaddoura

*  “If things aren’t working for you, be the boss.” – Mira Kaddoura

*  “Let go of the fantasy of baking bread.” – Chelsea Vadiver

*  “What each person knows, complHere’s a quick edit below. Busy week…. but I can do more of an edit on it if we have more time till deadline.

By Christine Taylor
Published March 3, 2016
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