IPA’s Golding sets out to tackle agency “objectification”

IPA president and The&Partnership London CEO Sarah Golding found herself in the midst of the ‘Top Five’ flurry when an injudicious such email from someone leaving T&P found its way into the popular prints.

But Golding has moved onto the front foot in a manner England’s struggling batsmen in New Zealand would do well to emulate. She distanced T&P from the email without being hysterical about it and now she’s roped in her pals in the IPA trade body prepare an “industry template” for a code of conduct for agencies to us in their employment policies: “on bullying and harassment issues, including objectification. This template will outline what objectification means and give advice on what acceptable work behaviours look like in order to stop any activities that objectify men or women.”

Golding (below) says: “Council members came together at the IPA, as part of Adweek, to discuss a number of issues. One of these issues was what we could do as industry leaders to collectively put an end to any agency practice that seek to objectify men or women. What we agreed was that the IPA would pull together a template for agencies to adapt for their employment guidelines if there is no advice already.

“Agency cultures are very different, and it is important they are different, but how you respect each other as colleagues should be the same. We are now gathering best practice examples and will be issuing this template in the next couple of weeks. This initiative is one of many that the IPA has undertaken as part of its Diversity agenda which we are very proud of.”

Bullying/harassment is one thing; objectification another and something of a minefield. Some people (men probably) wouldn’t mind if they were.

Years ago one famous agency had a muscle-bound art director in its creative department who both annoyed and amused his colleagues. One morning he strolled in to find the whole department in vests and shorts doing physical jerks on the floor and heaving weights. He seemed to think nothing of it, just assumed the message was getting through. But he might be seen in different times as mentally bullied and objectified.

The ad industry is, indeed, changing and, like it or not, #MeToo seems to be behind it. Every new top agency appointment in the US, for example, seems to be a woman. Their masters (male or female) or peers clearly think they’re the best. And, maybe, that there’s just less trouble in store that way.

So we’ll see how all this pans out and what the IPA’s template includes.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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