Let's talk about female 'empowerment'...

In the wake of yet another miss from Dove, we were reflecting on our lunchtime learning for ghd covering all things female 'empowerment'.

In 2016, we were commissioned by ghd to give an overview of how young women (so (wrongly) called 'millennials') engage with brands and what they value in brands.

Our (Young) Braves began gathering insights. What did they find? A great deal of cynicism and a hopeful horizon.

Here's a thought taster.

We are told to be perfect.

In her TED talk, "Teach girls bravery, not perfection".  Rehma Saujani referenced an HP report that found "men will apply for a jobif they meet only 60 percent of the qualifications, but women will apply only if they meet 100 percent of the qualifications." What does this mean? Women are left behind.

This is real and certain factors (social media) are elevating this.  In 2016, Laura Bates wrote in the Guardian about The Girlguiding Girls’ Attitudes Survey. Over 1,500 young girls were surveyed, revealing: 40% feel they are not pretty enough, and 25% feel they need to be “perfect”. One in six feel ashamed or embarrassed of how they look. One in six. 

Imagine for a minute if the media spoke about women (cue Theresa May's leather trousers) as they do men. It may look like this:

Looking up is pretty male, and pretty white.

(Not so) Fun fact: in 2015 there were more men called John as CEOs in the FTSE 100 than women (more than double).

The common rebuke: "But look at all the powerful women - Cheryl Sandberg, Hilary Clinton, Theresa May, Angela Merkel etc. etc."

Sure, but 40% of the global workplace is female - 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Go figure.

We're smarter than we're treated - engage with our 'smart'

Fake advertising agency John St. was set up to 'sell female empowerment'. It highlights the idea that capitalism is "buying into girl power and digging up insecurities for money". John St's punchy tagline is: "Powering empowerment through the power of brands". From our qual. research, young women are completely aware that these brands are riding on the feminism wave and unsurprisingly, they're not impressed.

Empowerment is positive, when it's not patronising.

For us, the companies that succeeded were those that empowered our intellect (Verizon's below) or were actually and activelyempowering girls like Bobbi Brown's #PrettyPowerful campaign.

There's plenty wrong with the world – brands have the power to address, support and raise awareness for causes – so why aren't they?


If you're interested in learning more contact jonathan@reluctantlybrave.com

Brand, MillennialsAdam