The prime goal of the ATS is to provide agencies with the knowledge, skills and training to enable them to define and prove their value. This is a content-first conference, and our focus as the ICA is to amplify, protect and transform our member agencies and the industry at large. But the aim of providing stellar content shouldn’t be a hindrance to the ICA achieving diversity in the speaker line-up. Survey stats show that 70% of event speakers across the world are male, but there’s no longer any excuse for all-white male panels, and for those panels that fail to reflect a broad range of backgrounds, experiences, and values.
We’ve made some progress with ATS 2019, but there’s further to go. For instance, in terms of gender balance, our 2019 conference diversity stats will (despite our best efforts) continue to favour male speakers, but our clear goal for 2020 is to represent diversity with an even gender split of 50/50, and with at least 50% of the speakers coming from under-represented communities such as PoC/Physical Ability/LGBTQ+, etc.
Looking ahead, we’ll go beyond the usual suspects, the industry pundits and those on the circuit. We’ll also cast a wider net for attendees. After all, an event can only be richer when a speaker line-up and audience is cognitively diverse. So we’ll look for participants that are not only varied in terms of their gender, ethnicity, nationality, and sexuality, but also for those from outside the advertising industry, because a diverse set of people and perspectives from other sectors will ultimately change our business for the better.
We’re looking for contributors that are passionate about marketing, communications, advertising, and every discipline in between. Even more broadly, we’re looking for people that want to see creative services thrive. People with advice, expertise and the experiences to share that will elevate our industry and our agency leadership.
Submitting ideas directly to us can help to break down the barriers in terms of encouraging people with little speaking experience to take part. It can be a daunting task to appear on a platform, and some may not readily identify with the terms “leader,” “leadership," and “expert.”
The ICA is here to help, too. We’ll support with content curation, presentation structure, abstracts, and research - anything possible to assist a new speaker in getting up on our platform.