WACL calls for 50% of all CEOs to be women

WACL celebrates its 100th birthday by setting out a mission to achieve gender parity in the workplace

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


As WACL celebrates its 100th birthday in 2023, the organisation has declared its ambition to achieve 50% women in leadership across the communications industry.

In a world where 80% of purchase decisions are made by women, yet women in leadership in the creative industries are scarce to be seen, the organisation is pushing toward greater representation in leadership that will ultimately help reflect the lived experience of women and girls in a positive, more authentic way within campaigns.

The mission is being backed with support from seven high-profile Patrons from business, politics, sport and entertainment who will help spread the message. These include Oti Mabuse, one of the world’s most successful dancers and previously a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, The Right Honourable Harriet Harman KC MP, Kate Mosse OBE FRSL, International award-winning bestselling selling Novelist, Non-Fiction writer and playwright, & Founder of the Women’s Prize for Fiction; Dame Sharon White, Chairman of John Lewis Partnership; Maisie Summers-Newton MBE, Athlete & Paralympic Champion; Maggie Alphonsi MBE, former England rugby player and Rugby World Cup Winner and Baroness Helena Kennedy KC. 

Closing the gender leadership gap

To help push forward greater gender equality in the workplace WACL is building data and will be benchmarking progress toward the 50% goal. Better reporting and transparency of data aims to encourage the industry to report on progress beyond what's mandated to help truly understand the current state of play to undergo the steps needed to close the gender leadership gap. 
The data will also focus on how intersectionality impacts women’s progress in the workplace and consider what can be implemented to support female leaders.

WACL has identified five key levers of change to drive gender equality in the workplace and is building a practical playbook for change to help businesses implement action plans in all five of these areas, which include:

  1. Change the language of leadership: Define the truly valuable leadership traits and hardwire that language into recruitment.
  2. Promote for potential: Understand how people of different genders move up the promotion ladder and introduce competence rather than achievement-based criteria which are often gendered.
  3. Flexible first: Consider how flexible working helps to level out inequalities.
  4. Be a woman’s health hero: Create workplaces that meet women’s more complex health needs at different life stages.
  5. Work like the world is watching: Build workplace cultures where everyone can succeed, free of harassment, assault and prejudice; and represent all women more authentically and positively in the work that we create.

Rania Robinson, President of WACL and CEO & Partner of Quiet Storm Advertising says “The 100th anniversary gives us all a renewed energy and focus for our efforts to move the dial in terms of the representation of all women, both in our industry and in the communications we create. We can do this by building a more inclusive work environment where women’s goals, talents and choices are fully respected and supported.” 

She continues: “The result, we know, will be an enriched talent pool and more effective work. After all, evidence indicates that as well as being good for business performance, better gender diversity also leads to increases in other types of diversity too, as women typically take on more DE&I work.”

WACL will also continue to support and elevate upcoming generations of women in the creative industries as it has done for the last 100 years, where in that time WACL has grown to a body of 300 senior, diverse women with a clear mission to accelerate gender equality.

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