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Diageo highlights gender balance in advertising through short film

 March 07, 2019

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Diageo has released a short film about gender balance in advertising for International Women’s Day.

Supporting more progressive gender portrayal

The short film highlights the role of advertising in forming culture, the historic misrepresentation of women in advertising and initiatives and partnerships to support more progressive gender portrayal in content.

The film also discusses the importance of diversity in the advertising industry itself and spotlights the organisations who strive to address imbalances behind the camera and in creative disciplines.

“Through the millennia, culture has been shaped by the stories we tell and if you think about it advertising is telling stories that are backed by billions of dollars to have them heard. I am convinced we can normalize gender equality with what we choose to show in our ads, and who we choose to make them. We strongly believe that diverse teams create all kinds of different stories, stories which portray men and women as they really are, stories that are eminently relatable," says Syl Saller, Chief Marketing Officer at Diageo. 

“When we tell stories involving the full spectrum of people that we see in the world we actually make our brands seem more vibrant, more culturally connected, and just more interesting," adds Andrew Geoghegan, Global Consumer Planning Director.

Facing challenges in the creative sector

The film is released as 50 women get involved in the Creative Equals ‘Returners’ scheme called #CreativeComeback. The scheme, supported by the UK Government Equalities Office is created to help women in creative disciples in the UK as they come back work after a career break of at least 12 months. The goal is to put female art directors, producers, copywriters, data analysts, designers and concept creators back into work.

Diageo is a sponsor of the scheme and the group of returners are working on briefs for two of Diageo’s famous global brands – Baileys and Guinness. 

“In the creative sector one of the big challenges is that only 12% of creative directors are women. Just as women are stepping up into leadership roles, motherhood, or perhaps caring responsibilities come along and women drop out of the industry," says Ali Hanan, Founder of Creative Equals.

"Our programme is all about upskilling women and all the things that they need to get back into the industry, that includes digital skills, that includes getting some fresh work in their book, and we're absolutely delighted to have some briefs coming in from Diageo that are going to give them that chance to really flex their creative muscles.”

“Creative Equals is celebrating the amazing creative talent that maybe might have dropped out of the industry for many reasons including childcare, illness, caring responsibilities, or just for broader reasons in - in life," adds Grainne Wafer, Global Brand Director for Baileys.

A commitment to diversity and inclusion 


Diageo has been working hard to increase inclusion and diversity in marketing – both in terms of progressive gender portrayal in advertising and by backing initiatives that contribute to gender balance in the industry itself. This includes being a member of the UN UNstereotype Alliance and a signing Free the Bid to encourage the increase of the number of female directors on adverts.

Diageo has also reviewed its creative work globally to identify improvements on progressive gender portrayal and is training its 1200 marketers and agencies around the world in  Representation, Agency, Perspective and Characterization of gender in advertising.

In January 2019 Diageo was recognised in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index. In 2018 Diageo was named by Thomson Reuters as the 4th most inclusive and diverse company in the world and ranked by Equileap as the best company in the UK for gender equality.

Join talented women at Diageo

Women's work is valued at Diageo and they thrive with the support and opportunities given to them in the company. As one of the leading alcohol beverages companies, Diageo offers a wide range of opportunities to talented women. Learn more and apply now!


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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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