With three new female leadership announcements, the commercial creativity sector is now leading the way towards improved gender balance at the top. With these latest appointments, 38% of the Managing Directors/CEOs leading IAPI agencies are now female. Compared to the 2019 CSO report which stated that only 28% that is something we should be proud of, but we still have a way to go to achieve our 50/50 goal.

Following the planned departure of Managing Director, Padraig Burns, who has successfully led Publicis’ Irish arm since 2010 and will be stepping down in July, Geraldine Jones has been appointed the new Managing Director of Publicis Dublin.

Geraldine, who currently acts as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and has worked at the company for 20 years, will take up her new role in August. She will be responsible for overseeing a team of 60 employees servicing some of the most innovative and respected brands in the market. In addition to her extensive industry expertise, Ms. Jones has also played an integral role in helping to shape and build, not only the strong culture and company ethos, but the future direction of the business in Ireland.

The appointment comes just one week after Caitriona Ní Laoire, announced she is leaving BBDO Dublin to became the new Managing Director within the Creative Practice at Core, and, last month OMD Ireland appointed Fiona Field, currently Deputy MD, Mediaworks, as the media agency’s new Managing Director from April following the departure of Tim Griffiths.

“That’s three female MDs so far this year, and it’s only February! I believe that we have to stop thinking of gender balance as a women’s issue,” says Charley Stoney, CEO, IAPI. “Gender balance benefits everyone, both men and women, so it’s fantastic to see our industry is beginning to remove the obstacles that lead to gender imbalance, especially at the more senior levels of management.”

Agencies that don’t promote gender balance run the risk of underperforming, which will ultimately affect their profits. IAPI members are now taking a new approach and rethinking how work is divided and how their female employees are being coached and supported to rise to the top.

Speaking about the appointments Fiona Field said: “When I started in this industry there were few women in senior positions, and it is wonderful to see the number of senior female appointments in the past year alone. The business case for establishing a truly diverse workforce grows more compelling every year and it is really encouraging to see progressive change in how the gender gap is narrowing and is a positive reflection of the industry embracing change.”

Speaking about her promotion to Managing Director, Geraldine Jones focuses on the support that her agency provided in helping her achieve her rise to the top: “Publicis followed a ‘best practice’ succession planning process for the MD role, stewarded by our Non-Executive Director, Mark Ryan who has experience in this area from his time in Accenture. As an internal candidate I had the benefit of completing EQi Leadership testing (emotional intelligence assessment, benchmarked internationally) and participating in executive coaching. Both were invaluable in identifying my strengths, key areas to focus on and ultimately in helping me to achieve my goal. An important learning from the process has been to take feedback seriously, but not personally – it’s an opportunity to grow.”

As the conversation around gender equality in Ireland continues to evolve, IAPI has been working to increase inclusion and diversity in the advertising, marketing, and media industries. Now in its second year, IAPI will once again run the Female Futures Fund, a programme that focuses on developing high-potential women in our industry.

Commenting on the scheme, Charley Stoney said: “Our industry is started to address gender balance at leadership level. Empowerment at all levels is so important for women, as confidence continues to be the key barrier for career progression and success.

Speaking about the latest appointments Stha Banks, Head of Paid Social at Core, and leading the Diversity & Inclusion Council on the IAPI Board says: “Seeing more women get into leadership positions like this is absolutely what is needed to balance the gender scales. This will have a positive impact on gender equality for many years to come. I am delighted for all 3 women, the amazing Fiona whom I have worked with in Core for almost a decade; Caitriona Ní Laoire who’s been appointed to MD of the Creative Practice here in Core and of course equally as thrilled for Ger Jones.”

“It’s encouraging to see the gender balance being addressed and to see attitudes changing," adds Caitriona Ní Laoire. "Creative work thrives on different perspectives. I have been blessed to be managed and mentored by inspiring women and men throughout my career who encouraged me to step up and speak up. I am aware of my privilege and look forward to having important, uncomfortable and imperfect conversations about how we build and champion a more diverse and inclusive workforce for the future. Exciting times ahead.”