At LIONS we know that creativity drives progress - this lives at our core - and we also understand that our business has the power to be a driver of positive change. Our tentpole Festival, Cannes Lions, convenes the world’s most powerful brands, media companies and agencies, meaning we are advantageously placed to play a meaningful role in moving towards a more sustainable, equitable and prosperous future.
As a global company, the individuals that make up LIONS strive to create positive change and are committed to making a lasting impact through our collective actions.
We recognise the support that we can provide to the creative community and actively use our platform and our reach to amplify and drive change. In combination with this we participate in and support a range of industry initiatives to help the world and all of its communities to thrive.
We know that when the industry comes together, amazing things happen. At the Festival we are proud to welcome a creative community of people from nearly 100 countries worldwide, and from all walks of life. Our stages and content programmes are open to all and we have worked, and continue to work, to significantly improve representation across these.
We know that creativity can come from anywhere - it’s evident in the diverse collection of work that wins Lions. We have always reflected this in our juries with representatives from around the world and across the industry. More recently female representation on our juries has improved, reaching 51% in 2021.
We have made progress but we know that we can do more. More importantly - we will do more and are working on more processes and initiatives as well as measurable targets to drive further progress. We welcome challenges and input wherever we are seen to be falling short.
Earlier this year we committed to engaging a DEI specialist consultancy to help us better understand what happened in relation to our appointment of the Roger Hatchuel Academy Dean, as well as to examine our practices across all areas of LIONS, and to advise on changes to the way we work so that we can ensure that everything we do as a business and brand is considered through the lens of equity.
Following a robust tender process involving a number of potential specialists, we can now confirm the appointment of The Unmistakables. They will be conducting a full and independent review of our processes and practices.
We anticipate the high-level findings of this review to be available mid-2022.
Following the public debate around DEI at Cannes Lions and the Lions organisation, we would like to reiterate the apology to Abraham Asefaw, which we have made in public and now also to Abraham in person. We would also like to share the steps we are taking to create positive change.
Through an ongoing collective of considered partnerships, LIONS has developed programmes and provided opportunities to underrepresented groups across the world. These include partnerships with organisations such as HP, the CCDC and Google Creative Campus.
We have recently partnered with WARC to provide students at over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs) in the United States with access to The Work - the world’s greatest collection of creative excellence - for free.
We will always encourage our community and partners to put forward individuals who will help us to represent the diversity of society at large. Similarly we welcome proposals for partnerships that align closely with our own values.
A more diverse, representative workforce creates better work, which is why we produce specific initiatives aimed at supporting diverse creative talent to thrive. We are constantly looking at new ways to support talent into and through the industry and are actively seeking partners on this mission
Our See It Be It initiative, launched in 2014, aims to achieve equal gender representation of creative directors and leaders by accelerating women into senior creative roles. Over 100 women have gained a fully-funded place on the programme and alumni have progressed into leadership positions, won multiple Lions and sat on Cannes Lions juries.
Our awards team partners with Women not Objects and the Unstereotype Alliance to fight stereotypes in advertising by providing guidance for all Festival juries on how to identify damaging content. Together with our partners, we also research the state of representation in advertising and media to help track the progress being made by the industry.
We have collaborated with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media since 2015 to research the size and impact of stereotypes in the industry and regularly published research with them on the state of representation in advertising and media. In 2020, we co-published the first and only research of its kind, producing clear data points on intersectional representation from a large sample of advertising.
We also recommend the Unstereotype Alliance's work, and specifically their report with UN Women : “Beyond Gender: The Invisible Stereotype' which focuses on the intersectional nature of stereotypes in three key nations: South Africa, Brazil and India. These four reports are all free to download and share here.
Glass: The Lion for Change recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice, through the conscious representation of gender in advertising. Profits from this Lion are gifted to NGOs and nonprofits at work in this field, including most recently UN Women and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Lions is a proud member of the Unstereotype Alliance, inaugurated at Cannes Lions in 2017. Recognising the power of partnerships to accelerate progress, this industry-led initiative convened by UN Women unites industry leaders, decision-makers and creatives to end harmful gender stereotypes in advertising. Lions regularly speaks at UA events and is the co-funder of various global research studies.
Advertising casting is a crucial issue in improving representation. In the wake of 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations, agency We Are Pi, ran an international survey of racism in advertising casting.
The results: 94% of the 500 respondents believe the ad industry needs to take action on racist decision-making in the casting process; 70% feel they do not have a safe space at work to share and discuss topics of racism and discrimination. Off the back of the survey, the agency launched their 'Before You Shoot’ campaign at LIONS Live, encouraging every organisation in the creative industry to pledge commitment to anti-racist casting decisions.