Jane Austin in Cannes: Cindy Gallop calls out sexist behaviour at Cannes

Some male advertising professionals behind entries for the Glass Lion for Change category this year are definitely not practicing what they preach in their creative work.

Cindy Gallop, president of the Glass Lions jury, said on that several individuals who presented their work to the jury this week exhibited sexist behaviour while doing so and jury had contacted those entrants later to express their displeasure.

This included “the man talking over the woman, the man physically blocking the woman with his body while presenting, using the woman as a prop,” said Gallop.

As Gallop pointed out, this is indicative of ongoing sexism in the industry. It also further highlights the hypocrisy of this industry. The messaging about DE&I, and issues like sexism, harassment, bullying and gender discrimination, is often just that – messaging. Behind all the posturing about change, the same old sexist rules still apply.

Thankfully, more awareness has been raised at Cannes this year about the sexist behaviour and harassment that has long been a feature of the festival. We’re seeing some action being taken this year, with the TimeTo initiative to tackle sexual harassment in advertising, partnering with Cannes Lions to produce new anti-harassment guidance.

In addition, women have stronger voices than ever at Cannes, with the likes of the Female Quotient Equality Lounge and MadWomen hosting thought-provoking discussions. Though the focus on girly culture that’s sometimes a feature of female-focused events at Cannes (the makeovers, the pink cocktails etc) can jar a bit with the seriousness of the issue. But hey, you can be serious about feminism and still want to look good.

Gallop and the Glass jury have done what everyone in this industry should be doing: calling out sexist behaviour for what it is and demonstrating that it will not be tolerated. If behaviour like this goes unchecked in any work environment, DE&I initiatives don’t amount to much more than processes and empty promises.

You can create campaigns that celebrate women all you like, but if your behaviour doesn’t change, nothing will. It’s not just a matter of talking about diversity, it’s about behaving like a human being who respects others and shows some human decency. In the rush to hustle in Cannes, some are forgetting that entirely.


  1. What is she, like 100 years old at this point? Unmarried, childless witch is irrelevant. Like the Cannes Lions itself. No wonder she was shown such open contempt. Back to the ‘Black Apartment’ with you, witch.

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