3% Conference Empowers Female Creative Leaders


During her 20 years as a Copywriter and Creative Director, Kat Gordon witnessed how frequently women in advertising were left out of important pitches, meetings, and sometimes entire creative departments. In 2012, only 3% of Creative Directors were women, and in a world where 73% of women feel misunderstood by advertisers and brands, Gordon calls this “business suicide.”

Women influence 80% of consumer spending and 60% of social media sharing, but 71% of women feel brands only consider them for beauty and cleaning products. “So many people talk about women as a subset,” Gordon said. “Women are the superset—of everything.”

Advertisers have been misrepresenting half of the population, and Gordon decided to do something about it. She founded the 3% Conference in September 2012 to address the issues that start with two words: “Lack of support for motherhood, lack of mentorship, lack of awareness that femaleness is an asset to connecting to the consumer marketplace today, lack of celebration of female work due to gender bias of award juries, lack of women negotiating their first agency salary and every one thereafter,” their website reads.

Through a combination of events, microactions, mentorship, a student scholarship fund, and an online community, the 3% Conference teaches both men and women how to address these issues in agencies. An annual fall conference and one-day MiniCons throughout the country help to spread the message. Now, 11% of Creative Directors are women, and the conference continues to champion for diversity in the workplace.

Last week Sue Kruskopf, an agency rarity as CEO/Founder and Executive Creative Director of KC, was invited to the Minneapolis MiniCon to speak on a panel called: Selling Yourself and Your Work. Kruskopf offered advice to female creatives about being authentic in your work and finding confidence after failure, a lesson she learned during the early years of running her own agency. “Confidence is about embracing your failures and getting up and doing it again,” Kruskopf said. “It’s always going to be better the next time around.”

Other speakers and panelists addressed the lack of diversity in the creative world, offered advice to women aspiring for leadership, and celebrated “manbassadors” who champion, support, and mentor women in the workplace.

“Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Gordon said during the morning keynote. “When you have too many people who look the same ideating together, there’s no tension. If two people ideating think the same, then one of them is irrelevant.”

“This isn’t just a women’s issue,” CEO of Colle+McVoy Christine Fruechte said during her speech. “This is about bringing inclusion and diversity into the creative world.”