"How is it supposed to make women feel when a man can get in trouble for bad behaviour and yet keep a senior role in the industry?”
“A senior leader asked me as an intern to come back to his hotel room.”
The human cost of sexual harassment in advertising is evident in these two highly personal takes on sexual harassment, which were shared anonymously in the ‘Booth of Truth’ at Bloomfest, held at Channel 4 yesterday.
These real voices have been a driving force in the creation of timeTo, the advertising industry’s initiative to end sexual harassment in advertising. The timeTo movement is a joint initiative between the Advertising Association, NABS and WACL. It was apt therefore that timeTo chose Bloomfest as the platform to launch the latest wave of its research and an action plan to end sexual harassment in advertising.
In the 18 months since the launch, 232 companies across the industry have signed up to endorse the code. Yet research published by Credos, the UK advertising industry think tank, shows that one in ten respondents from companies that have endorsed the timeTo code have experienced sexual harassment during the past 12 months.
This research underlines the fact that sexual harassment is not a historical issue and despite the growth of the #MeToo movement, 79% of respondents who have been sexually harassed never reported the incident. A fact that was reflected in the human stories shared at Bloom; where women who have experienced sexual harassment spoke movingly of the double-burden; turning their experience in on themselves because they did not feel able to speak up. Shouldering the weight of both blame and judgement, through no fault of their own.
Breaking the silence
The timeTo campaign is stepping up its action to ensure such experiences are consigned to the industry’s history. To this end a new timeTo toolkit has been launched for all endorsing companies. In addition, a training programme developed by NABS to raise awareness, educate employees and drive cultural change will launch early next year.
Karen Fraser MBE, the director of Credos, says that the industry needs a new set of tools and resources to put an end to sexual harassment. She explained: “While awareness levels of timeTo and the ‘Where Do You Draw The Line?’ campaign are good, it’s clear that sexual harassment is still happening in our industry, as recently as in the past 12 months. Most victims are not officially reporting sexual harassment and this has to change.”