The 3% Conference was held in San Francisco last week and thanks to my forward-thinking thinking CBX bosses, I got the chance to go. For those who are not familiar with it, the 3% Conference is a forum dedicated to helping women ascend in the largely male dominated led businesses of marketing, advertising and branding. There are lots of women in the lower and mid ranks – but not so much at the top. The name “3% Conference” comes from a widely reported sad statistic that only about 3% of advertising creative directors are women. (I have to assume that this percentage applies to “Executive Creative Directors”; from my experience, the gender disparity is not as great at the CD level.)
What was especially cool about the conference (beyond all the awesome girl power, of course) was that it was not just a conference. It was an invitation to join a movement. The organizers really understand that to create change, a broad swath of people need to recognize a problem, be inspired and take action. So if you are a brand in hopes of creating a movement, consider these 3% principles:
– Choose an iconic way to show visible progress. I love the fact that we can expect the name of the movement itself to change over time and be a visible sign of progress. I can’t wait for the “5% Conference” next year, and then someday, the “50% Conference!”
– Ask for “micro-actions.” The conference organizers and speakers were consistently asking participants to identify what actions they as individuals could undertake in order to help bring the desired future to life. They are asking us all take personal responsibility and be accountable. And by couching the requests in terms of “micro-actions” it helped show that the behaviors were attainable and realistic in scope and scale.
– Create community. Tweeting, Facebooking and face-to-face connections were all highly encouraged. The conference is going on the road, doing a multi-city tour, and will provide more opportunities for participation and additional forums to connect.
– Provide benefits for the participants. I won’t throw anyone under the bus but there are lots of brand-led movements out there that ask folks to take action and get engaged but fail to provide the participant with any intrinsic or external rewards. The 3% movement is flush with benefits. The conference provided models, tools and inspiration to advocate successfully for oneself in the workplace as well as some education on self-care. Well done!
If you are intrigued by the 3% Conference or its mission, I highly recommend checking out the keynote speech given by Cindy Gallop. She makes a fantastic case for why it is good for women, good for men and good for business when women have a seat at the table. Go ahead, watch it, it’s just a micro-action.