Why as a woman I cannot support the 50/50 Initiative.
The news broke Memorial Day weekend, and with the holiday I assume most people missed the memo. The ADC- perfectly well intended- announced their 50/50 Initiative, a mandate to the design community in which all panels, conferences and organizations should strive for equal gender representation, specifically more women everywhere.
I deeply respect and applaud the Art Director's Club and their stance on equality. While I commend their dutiful reproach of chauvinism and harassment, I cannot fully support the initiative as currently stated.
There are two glaring reasons for this, the first being the polarization of talented women and chronic chauvinists. With an edict from such a prestigious organization, conferences and contests may be tempted to bypass talented men for lackluster ladies in the name of filling a seat. Conversely, the initiative robs any women landing these panels and engagements of the merit of their expertise. In such a position, I would question whether or not my gender had affected decision making. The very designers this initiative means to shame into equality could argue the cheapness of my inclusion and dismiss my presence on said board/panel.
Secondarily, while I appreciate the ADC's party and photo of participating 50/50 art directors and talents, the mark was missed by excluding men. How can a gender equality initiative be taken seriously if those celebrated were 100% women? To change the industry, male designers must also be uplifted for their impartiality. This will raise awareness and reward those that further fairness. My point summarizes to this: the best kind of inclusion does not exclude anyone.
I think 50/50 in current form is touching an affirmative action nerve best left out of the creative industry. As problem solvers by nature, we should be looking for atypical answers to ethics and business as well as aesthetics. I believe by treating one another as solitary unit of creative peoples and upholding those than promote such values, the initiative will carry itself out to completion. Does this mean we turn a blind eye to injustice in-house and online? Absolutely not. However, as a favorite movie of mine rallies, "None have claim. ALL have claim".
I would love to carry out a conversation on the subject- as a freelancer my perspective may differ from those in-house. Regardless, I ultimately wish to explore a better solution and assist in the implementation of equality.