Cannes continues gender balance push

The annual awards show announces its See It Be It winners as it moved to gender parity on its juries.
Krystle Mullin

FCB’s Krystle Mullin is among this year’s group of See It Be it winners.

The Toronto-based copywriter picks up a round-trip, all-expenses-paid ticket to Cannes, where she’ll join 14 other women in the career accelerator program.

She and the other winners will get access to curated, main-stage seminars and the jury room, as well as specially designed workshops and one-on-one mentoring, according to a release.

This is the third year of the program, which launched in a bid to correct the gender imbalance at advertising agencies. One of the biggest issues with getting women up the senior ranks, across most industries, is the issue of women bowing out mid-career to better balance work and family. Access to senior-level mentors and, of course, both overt and masked sexism also play huge roles. Globally, less than 25% of agency creatives are female, while just 3% reach the CD level, according to Cannes. In Canada, one estimate found less than 15% of creative directors are women. 

Cannes has been working on increasing the presence of women at the annual festival for a few years. Back in 2013, Cannes CEO Philip Thomas highlighted the difficulty in getting gender-balanced juries, saying less than 5% of agency leaders were female, which limited the pool of candidates. The following year, it bumped up its female representation, ensuring five of the 15 jury presidents were female (including Canada’s own Judy John). This year, that’s down to four women across 16 categories, though its jury panel has seen significant improvement, achieving a 40/60 gender split.

Last year, the awards show launched its Glass Lion awards (Leo Burnett and John, and the Always “#LikeAGirl” campaign, picked up one of the eight trophies), which recognizes advertising that makes a “positive and progressive contribution to gender representation.”