The Long & Winding Road by Patrick Reade

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‘Behind every good man is a good woman’ or so the saying goes… in these more liberated and expressive times there need not be a woman with every man and vice versa but you get the point.

If I asked you to imagine a web based business , an Internet driven entrepreneur, a content marketing group of techno whizz Kids, what would you see in your mind’s eye?

My guess is that all or the vast majority of faces you will see in this imaginary scene will have a three day growth, piercings and tattoos, jeans slipping trendily off the lower portions of the gluteus maximus and perhaps a woolly hat worn ‘grunge’ style… I correct? Did you see any girls in the scene? Probably not…and that is a crying shame, not because they tend not to have a three day growth etc but because when I last checked they are equally as creative and driven as the boys.

Now , take your imaginary scene outside of the ‘studio’ or ‘think tank’ environment of the business you have imagined and move to the sales area… you see some females, amazing isn’t it? No matter how we claim to be all inclusive we just do not think of girls being technologically able and creative nor do we think they have the drive to grind out the long hours meeting production deadlines. Why? No idea really , just because it has always been done a certain way does not mean that way has any merit…..just crazy to think that in a world dedicated to breaking rules and being ‘maverick’ we have still not crossed the divide between the sexes. Why is it that we are happy to let female staff sell a product and yet not allow them to develop it? What exactly are we trying to sell here? The female or the product?

There is something so wonderful about the fragile male ego, it soldiers on amidst all manner of crisis , punishing itself to get the job done , sacrificing family life and health…but ask a girl to help…..oh come on , be serious!!!

Advertising and marketing today are still heavily entrenched in the use of female persona as ‘eye candy’ relegating their status to little more than cosmetic paraphernalia. When the majority of the world population is female, I would suggest this is both patronising and stupid.There seems to be a disconnect between logic and practice in the business world, where we expect woman to perform as men in many areas of life, except work. The fact is that despite the ‘hunter gatherer’ theory we do not actually live like that today, in fact most of the hunting and gathering is done by women anyway…when was the last time the average man did the weekly shop at the grocery store on a regular basis?

I am not intending to bash men…last time I checked I was one! I love my beer , my football and all things male but I also iron , do dishes , cook , shop , take kids to doctors, etc etc…in other words , when we really do mix our roles why on earth do we not see more women in the studio and at the computer writing code etc?

I think it is because there may not be many applicants for these jobs…perhaps correct but ask yourself ‘Why?’…….we are just not encouraging girls to enter this ‘macho world of geekiness’ , we are comfortable with the three day growth and all that comes with it. We are not making efforts to make this fantastically exciting and mind exploding business attractive, in effect we are only talking to half our audience. Isn’t that a condemnation of a business where we preach the exact opposite to our clients?

So , what to do? We can all be the armchair quarterback and see the game 20/20 from distance but how do we actually grasp the nettle ? We must admit our failings and develop this untapped pool of creative talent.

Watch this interesting piece from Bordeaux , France and it might sow a seed in your mind for the future….

Not only has the whole town focused on technology but more importantly it has included ALL the population in the efforts…… those Europeans sure are different!

Whether this idea will succeed is not clear but in the very act of trying it tells me that looking forward is very much on the minds of one small corner of the world and we should applaud them for that. Now , how do we get the message out that there is a basic inequality in the world when we talk about opportunity for girls? That is a major topic , not best placed in a small blog in this arena , so breathe easy , I am not going to go off on some Utopian monologue about equality…….phew, dodged a bullet there! Seriously , though , we can use technology to help drive a point home. We all accept that we live in a mobile world , we consume information in small bits and lots of it every day…….is there some technology out there that can actually serve a larger purpose than just selling something to an unsuspecting passer by?

Have a look at this project launched in London by ‘PlanUK’ , which combines some sophisticated tech ideas with edgy marketing and all in the most unlikely of places…and the subject matter? Well let’s say it is not what we would expect this technology to be used on first! I love it!!

Not suggesting that our industry should be compared to under-developed countries at all but it should bring home that we are wasting a most precious resource across the board; wherever and whenever we can, we should actively encourage and develop girls prowess in our industry as much as boys and benefit from both.We must look at how we set the expectations of children at school and in the home, after all they act as they have been shown , so let’s be smart about what we show them.

I’m going to make the first move……I’ll do all the coffee mugs that have been piling up in the sink waiting for someone else do do them…….as a poster in one office I visit says ” do your own dishes , your mum does not work here!”

Short and sweet this week, see you on the ‘long and winding road’…..Patrick

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