International Women’s Day 2023: Embracing Equity



The IPA Agency Census results released last week show that the share of women in C-suite positions has increased by 12% and the share of individuals from a non-white background in the C-suite has increased by 58%, showing an improved pace of change year-on-year.

However, the census also revealed that both the gender and ethnicity pay gaps remain and although the gender pay gap has dropped slightly compared to previous years, there’s still work to be done. And as the Gender Pay Gap bot is back for another year, we’re given a stark reminder that there’s still work to be done.

This year’s theme for IWD is #EmbraceEquity and it feels like an important one for sparking good discussions around how we can keep pushing change forward in the industry and beyond. The idea behind #EmbraceEquity aims to tackle the misunderstanding around the words equity and equality and highlights the importance of equity for real change.

The definitions provided by IWD are as follows:

  • Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities
  • Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome

Understanding how we can make space for all women at every intersection of society is something we believe to be an important catalyst for change this International Women’s Day and beyond.

As Isobel Buckingham of the 10 Group tells us “posting pictures of employees hugging themselves - the official IWD 2023 pose - won’t have any impact on brand sentiment if it isn’t backed by action.”

Which is one of the reasons why we haven’t asked the team to hug themselves this year but rather focused on both campaigns that are truly authentic when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion and those can be seen as catalysts for real change.

Instead, we asked some of the team to give us examples of authentic, best-in-class campaigns which embrace equity beyond International Women’s Day:

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Quiet Storm x Google

“With equity being defined as giving people what they need to be successful - I’ve chosen this campaign as it focused on helping Black British Businesses. At the time (2020 pandemic) the Black community were also hit the hardest by the pandemic which only increased economic inequality. So, l love that Google wanted to create change, by partnering with ‘Black Pound Day’ and supporting Black Businesses by giving them free access to Google tools and training to help them grow, become more visible online and essentially, to become more successful.” Steph Nattu, Associate Board Director & Business Director

Quiet Storm:
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Saatchi & Saatchi x Pregnant Then Screwed – ‘A Cry For Help’

“I believe this campaign is so relevant to the current economic situation in the UK and truly shines a light on the inequalities for mothers in the workplace. The Pregnant Then Screwed 2023 report has revealed that 76% of mothers who pay for childcare say it no longer makes financial sense for them to work. Equity represents that equal opportunities aren’t enough and true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. More action needs to be done to bridge the gap for working mothers. Employers need to be looking for solutions to this issue. A great example of change in this category is AMV BBDO as an example with its comprehensive Life Changes policy and meaningful financial support for employees, such as £500 a month per child for childcare for one year.” Sophie Urquhart, Marketing Executive

Saatchi & Saatchi:
Pregnant Then Screwed
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DDB Aotearoa NZ x Correct the Internet

“This campaign by DDB Aotearoa NZ speaks volumes for the progress we have made in sport for equality and yet highlights how far we still must go. ‘Correct The Internet’ is doing vital work to ensure the results in our searches reflect the facts and not perpetuate historic biases. The young girl in the clip represents people worldwide who can be misled by the internet's false results on facts within sports and how we must try to change this.” Josie Shand, Team Assistant

DDB Aotearoa NZ:
Correct the Internet
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BTEC London x Women in Games #GenderSwap

“One in two gamers is a woman and yet a lack of female representation behind the scenes in gaming has led to sexualisation and stereotyping of female characters. To highlight how absurd and outdated these character are, BTEC ‘modded’ male characters to act like their female counterparts. By flipping the narrative on its head, the team were able to use the male characters to show just how damaging, demeaning and downright ridiculous stereotypes can be. The campaign shows how better representation within an industry is essential to better represent the audience it aims to serve, without alienating half the population.” Georgie Moreton, Assistant Editor


CPB London x Double Standards

“As a mother I’m passionate about bringing my daughter up to compete and not conform. Yet having spent two decades as a journalist I am aware that the media industry contributes to a narrative in which women and girls exist in a state of permanent contradiction. The thousand tiny paper cuts of sexist stereotypes continue to suffocate women and girls and stop them from reaching their full potential. This contradiction and the tightrope women walk every day is brought to life with passion and precision by CPB London in the ‘Double Standards’ campaign. Underpinned by research which shows that one in five British men has no problem with sexist language, the work shows how far we still must go to really embrace equity and equality. It’s easy to be cynical about International Women’s Day and the work that comes alongside it. But this campaign is a powerful reminder of how the creative industries can change the narrative.” Nicky Kemp, Editorial Director

Double Standards
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Iris x Barclays

“A big and often overlooked aspect of representation is equity – for a very long-time women’s football has been amassing all the hardware in terms of success without the same increase in payment. Brands showing major commitment via sponsorship is fundamental to the levelling of the playing field in sports. As long as this sends a message to other brands to partner with success and not just celebrities. This would also increase brand's responsibility to increase viewership in what is now their product” Sam Ako, Business Development Manager

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Splendid Comms x Laybuy

“Financially independent women help in uprooting the age-old gender biases that are deeply rooted in this day in age… Managing your money is a source of confidence but also gives women the credibility to participate in important matters of decision making, for themselves and their families." Jas Phull, Team Assistant

Splendid Comms:

You can read some of the thought leadership pieces around this year’s International Women’s Day theme over on BITE and some more work from our member agencies which embody the theme in this Pinboard.