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International Women's Day

AKQA NY initiative 

One of the things I’ve grown more passionate about at AKQA is celebrating the diversity of the incredibly talented people I get to work with every day. Many of whom are women who inspire me in my lowest moments and provide professional and emotional support every day. When my Creative Director, Resh Sidhu, asked if I wanted to work on a creative initiative for International Women’s Day 2019, I jumped at the chance alongside my close ally and copywriter Tesja Bonnie.


International Women’s Day has been celebrated annually on March 8th since 1911. The theme for 2019 was ‘Balance for better’. This theme revolved around the idea that a balanced world is a better world and asked campaigners to reflect on how you are helping to forge gender parity. The idea that stood out from brainstorming was to ask every person in the studio, male and female, to answer a simple question: how can we achieve a gender-balanced workplace? 


In order to share everyone’s ideas, we asked for help from our creative peers to photograph every person who participated so that their portrait could be the backdrop for their quote. Antoine Christian – the finest designer I’ve ever worked with – dedicated a lot of time to crafting an art direction that captured the spirit and seriousness of the topic, and creative August Ostberg photographed 70+ employees. You may not be surprised to hear that facilitating the photo shoot process was my role, spreadsheets and all, whilst Tesja helped every person craft copy to capture what they wanted to say. 

Having initially not known what the uptake from our colleagues to participate would be like, we were thrilled that so many men and women in the studio were willing to take part. My wonderful colleague Lawrence Edmonson, who does all things tech, saw an opportunity to create a microsite out of our portraits and rallied our female all-star developers to build it in a matter of days following Antoine’s direction.


Our microsite was up and running on March 8th for everyone to share with their friends, families and social networks alongside their own portraits and quotes. The day culminated with a panel discussion in the studio that I spoke on to highlight how the lack of gender diversity in the industry has impacted me personally; and a talk by Kate Ginsberg from Kantar who I had reached out to prior to ask if she could join us to share her insights from Kantar’s recent research report on the role of gender in advertising.

During this project, I met people I had never spoken to before by reaching out to ask them if they wanted to get involved, and found that my colleagues had passions around the topic of diversity that I had never realised. Little moments like this triggered a conversation which otherwise wouldn’t have happened and it’s these moments of inspiration which will stick with me for a long time.

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