The EACA DEI Task Force Launches in Cannes the Report ‘Creative Equality in Advertising 2024’


Why Women are Still Coming Last in the Creative Awards Race

  • EACA, NORD DDB, TBWA and ACT Responsible partner up to launch ‘Creative Equality in Advertising 2024’
  • Report reveals that women are still only winning 24% of the top metal across Europe’s major awards

Women are winning less than a quarter of Europe’s top awards accolades according to a new report. ‘Creative Equality in Advertising 2024’ highlights the persistent issue of gender inequality in the advertising industry, revealing a 3:1 ratio of men in the most highly-decorated teams.

Led by the European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA) DEI Taskforce alongside NORD DDB, TBWA and ACT Responsible, the report shows that only 24% of the Golds and Grand Prix at European awards between 2019 and today, have been won by women – despite women making up over 40% of executive boards globally.

The research compiled winners from sixteen European countries, pinpointing the most creative award show in each country, as well as some pan-European and global awards such as Eurobest and Cannes Lions. It found that over the past five years (2019 – 2023), the distribution of winners in each country’s top creative competitions reveals a stark gender imbalance.

The best performing country was Greece with 42% of the Gold and Grand Prix awards available going to female creatives, with the next best-performing countries Finland (32%) and Sweden (30%). The worst-performing in Europe were France and Poland on just 12% and Ireland and Belgium close on their heels with just 14% of their top awards going to creative teams that included women.

During this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity Open House for Good – a 2 hour window where Le Palais des Festivals is open to the public – ACT Responsible hosted a conversation with leading creative thinkers and marketers to discuss the report’s findings. Moderated by Seth Matlins, Forbes’ CMO Network Managing Director, the conversation included DDB’s Global CCO, Chaka Sobhani, Kate Cronin, Moderna’s Global CMO, and the Global ECD of Jellyfish and founder of “Good Girls Eat Dinner”, Jo Wallace among others. The group explored how awards advance the careers of leading creatives and address why representation isn’t improving fast enough.

The long-standing issue of women leaving the advertising industry underscores the need to address this trend and explore methods for enhancing the development and growth of women’s creative careers. The 2023 Global DEI Census highlighted the trend with one in six female global marketing industry members reporting considering leaving due to DEI shortcomings. In its recent ‘She’s a Keeper’ Playbook, the EACA found that only 11% of female advertising practitioners manage to reach senior positions in creative roles.

As a result, Creative Equality in Advertising 2024, focuses on the impact of awards on the professional growth of creatives; providing recognition and validation, motivation, career advancement, increased visibility for both creatives and their agency, and improved client relationships at the top. It also asks industry experts for their advice on what will unlock progress for female creatives.

CEO and founder of Creative Equals Ali Hanan states, “When I founded Creative Equals in 2014, only 12% of Creative Directors were women. In fact, at that time, there were more men called Dave than women on the juries of our top awards, so as shocking as these might appear to many, these numbers still represent decades of progress. The next step change is systemic.”

This is backed by Pascale Nader, Creative Strategist and Lecturer at HU University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht:“The award is the final product, the tip of the iceberg, but the entire process needs attention. I acknowledge that changes are happening, but worry that they are sometimes merely superficial. Everyone talks about DEI, but the root causes still need to be addressed.

From a business perspective, Christian de la Villehuchet, President of EACA and Chief Integration Officer at Havas highlights: “The core issue stems from the significant gap in access to top creative roles. Women are often not given the same opportunities as men to reach these positions, which is reflected in the award outcomes”.

Chaka Sobhani, President and CCO of DDB Worldwide, urges the industry to act on these numbers: “This issue can’t be number 3 on the company agenda. It is firmly number 1. And the rewards are so obvious. It will make our creativity better, our industry better, and society better. What could be more important or motivation than that?