The CMO Show:
Anne Miles on gender-inclusive marketing

Anne Miles, Managing Director of Suits&Sneakers, talks to host Mark Jones about gender-inclusive storytelling and the impact of unconscious bias in marketing.

As marketers, are we letting our unconscious biases get in the way of crafting better creative concepts, strategies and executions?

Award-winning Australian business leader and “conscious marketer,” Anne Miles, seeks to combat the negative impacts of unconscious bias in marketing – seeing it as a stride towards breaking down harmful stereotypes and ultimately achieving equal opportunity in the workplace.

Anne posits that as long as brands continue to target distinctly male or female audiences with only masculine and feminine language and imagery respectively, they are missing out on opportunities to resonate with customers who gendered communications might not appeal to.

“I think one of the biggest things that companies in marketing are doing really wrong is that they look at their past sales data, and think that defines who their audience is,” Anne says.

“It’s really hard to let go of the fact that you’ve captured the last 10, 20 years of sales data with gender bias, so this data doesn’t reveal who your potential audience is. Get rid of all sales data, and focus on where we need to be in the future.” 

Pointing to examples of leading automotive brands’ TVCs, Anne underlines the power of language, imagery and motifs in brand storytelling, and encourages marketers to become more conscious and purpose-driven in their creative communications efforts.

“Women actually think that most marketers in a whole bunch of different categories don’t understand them. So something is going wrong there, and I’m proposing that it is because they are talking to men when women are actually the main buyer,” she says 

“Like any communication, regardless of what gender you are speaking to, you have to be clear about what you’re talking about. When you’re doing it in a gender-neutral way, you are going to use a certain type of language, but you are able to communicate the purpose behind it.”

Anne notes that for some products and categories gendered brand communication is relevant, but marketers should consider the opportunity for better campaign performance that a gender-inclusive approach to marketing could result in, and apply this thinking to their practice.

“The gender-neutral space is all about being conversational, so the language is inclusive of everybody,” Anne says.

“I’m saying the communication needs to be neutral as there is a middle ground where it appeals to both masculine and feminine audiences.” 

Check out this episode of The CMO Show to discover how to be aware of the impact of unconscious bias, and embrace the power of gender-inclusive storytelling.

For those playing along at home, during this episode Anne refers to three automotive TVCs as examples of gendered and gender-inclusive marketing. We have linked them below here so you can watch each ad as Anne describes the masculine and feminine qualities of each campaign and explains how the third BMW ad is a good example of gender-inclusive storytelling.

Masculine ad example: BMW

Feminine ad example: Volvo

Gender-inclusive example: BMW


Suits&Sneakers’ Gender Inclusive Checklist & Content Writing Formula

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The CMO Show production team

Producer – Charlotte Goodwin & Stephanie Woo

Audio Engineers – Daniel MarrTom Henderson & Jonny McNee

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Host: Mark Jones

Guest: Anne Miles

Mark Jones: Like it or not, we all see the world through the lens of our belief systems and our own experiences.  This can also be known as our unconscious bias. Unconscious bias being, of course, the stereotypes that automatically influence our behavior or our ideas. And this, of course, is a huge challenge for marketers and creatives. Are we letting our unconscious bias get in the way of great ideas and big concepts that could- appeal to all people?     Well, hello, everybody. Mark Jones here for The CMO Show. And, uh, I’m really looking forward to our conversation today. I had a great interview with Anne Miles. She’s the founder and managing director of Suits&Sneakers. It’s a talent acquisition and marketing agency. And I spoke to her because she is an expert on gender-inclusive marketing. It’s a fascinating topic, uh, when we start thinking about gender and how we can develop , creative ideas, marketing campaigns that deliberately appeal to everybody and not get stuck in the limitations that can come when we’re focused on language and ideas that specifically appeal to one gender. Another thing, of course, is unconscious bias. How do we think about unconscious bias as, uh, a filter that we need to overcome? Sometimes we can be limited because we are biased in a certain direction as creatives,  and that happens to all of us at different points in time. So we talk about all these topics. Uh, it’s a really great eye-opener, I think. Uh, well, I certainly enjoyed the conversation, and I know that you will, too. So let’s hear what Anne has to say about gender-inclusive marketing.

Just a note listeners Anne refers to three ads in this episode as examples of gendered and gender-inclusive marketing. To play along at home, visit our website – click on Anne’s episode and check out the show notes to watch the videos.

Thank you and enjoy.

Well, welcome back to The CMO Show podcast . And this is really exciting, we are, of course, , in our home studios, aka bedrooms, and who knows where else, you know, other pockets of our houses. , it is great to have you with us. And my guest, of course, is Anne Miles. Anne, so good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Anne Miles: Thank you for having me.

Mark Jones: Now,   just for those playing at home, it was 2016 that we last spoke, right? On The CMO Show? So,  old school, well done. Hey, what’s changed in that time for you?

Anne Miles: Yeah, lots actually. So I thinking back then, it even had a different company name. And then I found out from the trademark people that I wasn’t allowed to call it International Creative Services ever again. So I thought, “Better do a new name.” So January in 2019, I changed the name. It’s now Suits&Sneakers. So those suits are the … like, a whole bunch of account directors, strategists, and people who just get stuff done. And the sneakers, creatives, tech, and production people.

Mark Jones: Nice, I… Just to pick you up on your brand there too because you… looks like you might be wearing a suit?

Anne Miles: Yeah, but I won’t confess to what’s on the bottom half today.

Mark Jones: Right [laughs]. You can see where I was going with that, right. So

Anne Miles: [laughs]

Mark Jones: think these days it’s t-shirts and sneakers, you know? In our home environment.

Anne Miles: [laughs] Yeah. [laughs] That’s Aussie thongs don’t count though. Very bogan

Mark Jones: very-very good yeah. No. Look if you’re not wearing something creative on the bottoms these days you’re not trying hard enough.

Um, so gender neutral marketing is the subject of our conversation today. I know that you’re a speaker and an expert on this space so we’ve got a lot to talk about from a marketing perspective. But um, I think quite clearly for those who don’t know what it is we probably should define it and then move from there.

Anne Miles: Yeah. And it actually can be a little bit, um, like, controversial, actually, how I describe it. So some people will say, “There’s no such thing as no gender.” So therefore it’s offensive, actually. But I’m saying the communication needs to be neutral in order to be more inclusive. So … But … And I feel that it fits in this lovely middle ground where it appeals to both masculine and the feminine audience, and to be completely inclusive. So

Mark Jones: Well, you’re talking about communication styles and marketing strategies not identities, right? Tha-that’s probably the cleanest way to do… make a distinction there. Okay so, we’ve got male and female th… the binary kind of… I hate to use that term but do you know what I’m saying? Ar-are we coming from the extremes?

Anne Miles: Yeah, that’s actually a really good insightful question because I actually have a transgender child. So I do have a real personal, um, passion on this topic. And I also know that not everyone fits exactly in the masculine box, or exactly in the feminine box, and masculine and feminine aren’t always assigned to male and female, if you know what I mean. So it’s becoming much more of a fluid thing as well.

Mark Jones: Well just on that, is that where your passion for this subject comes from?

Anne Miles: Yeah, it does partly. It also comes from the fact that I think as a, um, woman growing up in the marketing industry, I started in ’83 in the industry, and, uh, my entire career, I reckon I’ve left every single job because of discrimination, or not having an opportunity to go up anywhere. Um, you know, I’d be in, in a big agency, going through management training, and the trainer would go, “Guess what? We’ve got the next managing director here, or next, next CEO. Wow, cool.” And the, um, current boss goes, “Oh, who?” You know, like, all excited. And then they go, “Anne Miles.” And he goes, “Oh, oh, but she’s a woman. And you know, we’re an automotive-led agency, so there’s no place for women.”

Mark Jones: I can’t imagine… I mean obviously I can’t empathis e in any way shape or form but what I can imagine is the-the grief that that must cause you. And I imagine that situation as being replicated many, many times over. So I think for you, did you get to this point of like, okay I’ve got to do something about this?

Anne Miles: Yeah, definitely I did, and, and that’s why I built my whole, um, business around this. So I think what this is, um, part of is the whole stereotypes are wrong. So I’m … I feel like I’m the voice of getting rid of harmful stereotypes, regardless whether it’s gender, or whether it’s racism, or, you know, I’m like, I was originally a country girl, came to the city. And it’s like, you never quite fit in either. That’s a bias that people have as well. Um, I also talk about socioeconomic bias, and also neuro-diversity as well. So that’s whether personality typing, or even just people’s ability to,  think and clearly communicate, and understand things too,

Mark Jones: Yeah, excellent. So, we-we’ve got a bit of a sense of what, you know, the subject is and some of the problems that are behind it. What are some examples? Of course that’s what the question… yeah, you’ll get that question all the time. Uh, but there’s got to be some very clear examples of um, you know, ostensibly what’s wrong.

Anne Miles: Yeah, it is a really good question, and also I think you’re tapping into a good, uh, description of this because, uh, you know, whether it’s actually right or wrong is questionable as well. So I think

Mark Jones: That is a moral judgment of mine. I think I’m already [laughs]… I’m steering in the moral judgment already. [laughs]. So how, how should I keep a… what… what’s better language that I should use?

Anne Miles: I think it’s, you know, it’s a good way to think about it, because I think it is wrong in some instances. Like, I think, for example, in the automotive sector right now,  in a nutshell, women actually think that most, um, marketers in most categories think they are not under- they don’t understand them. So something’s going really wrong there, and I’m proposing that a lot of what’s going wrong is the fact that, uh, they’re talking to men, when women are actually the main buyer. And this is across the board in a whole bunch of different categories as well.

Say for example, um, in the automotive sector, between, whether it’s new and used cars, or which part of the sector you look at, 65 to 85% of buyers are women, yet a lot of … I’ve been in an, um, automotive and marketing department in a huge, automotive business and brand. And, uh, I have to say it was really, really gendered, even in the way they operated in the office to real problem. So we’re really missing the mark there. Um, so I guess that’s one of the examples that I thought was worthwhile showing you, is I’ve got a BMW ad, and that we can make available.

Uh, so if you look at this ad in particular, it’s like, even the coloring, it’s very dark and moody. It’s actually got a lot of, um, sort of exaggerated, uh, tonality around it, um, aggrandized concepts. It’s, it’s quite a high production value concept. It’s got a bit of sort of show off factor about it. even the music is sort of a bit dramatic, you know, like this at the e- and right at the end.

Mark Jones: it strikes me that this is very much a description of how you interpret the creative direction. This is what you’re seeing because clearly it’s coming from a creative space. So they’ve… they’ve looked at the… the problem from uh, a business perspective and they’ve  said, you know, who are we targeting and then they’ve come up with these concepts about how the car will be presented. You’re describing a lot of lang… a lot of language which is um, uh, aggressive, uh, strong. These.. these kind of hyper masculine terms is that… Is that right? Is there an unconscious bias? An unconscious creative, um, element that’s coming here? That’s directly informed and cut off an entire part of the buying public?

Anne Miles: Yeah, that’s right. And I do think there’s so … there’s two aspects to it. So the actual reason we get here into this content that is, you know, biased in one way or another, or whether it’s accidental or on purpose, um, comes from a whole bunch of different steps along the creative and marketing process. One of them is if you go right back to the strategy that someone actually thought that these BMW cars were bought by men, that’s potentially a missed opportunity, or you could say a mistake So if someone thought that, “Well, uh, we’re only gonna talk to men,” then this ad would be talking to men, and talking really well to men. So that’s okay some of the time.

Mark Jones: Well that’s actually what I wanted to say to you. As a man I was like, this ad is awesome. [laughs].

Anne Miles: [laughs] Yeah. [laughs] Exactly. [laughs] And I don’t mind it either. I’ve got a, well, a little bit of a masculine streak in myself, as well as a female, so  I like some masculine cues myself. So that’s why this fluidness, this fluid line, we need to respect a little more. So there are times, go hard on the masculine if you wanna be masculine. The challenge is for BMW, that’s a really big missed out opportunity because women are the majority buyer currently, which I would even call “diversity oversteer,” which is it’s a classification I have for when one category is over represented.

And the reason is it’s come about for some other kind of like, trying to self-correct or be sort of activists, and it’s overdoing it. And, you know, the women were sort of relegated to the home, and therefore, any decision around the home was considered menial. And so therefore, they could have that right. And now, it’s become every purchase is considered part of the home. So it needs to even out as well.

Mark Jones: And just to point out some puns there, you’re talking about over steering and,

Anne Miles: I know.

Mark Jones: over correcting. You-You’re on message. You-you’re doing well with the car metaphor. Now, you’ve got two other examples, right?

Anne Miles: Yeah, that’s right. So I’ve got another one here, which is for Volvo, actually. I, I’m a bit of an automotive girl

So this ad is, um, very, very, uh, uh, feminine. It’s like only features women in the entire ad, and it’s featuring children. So people’s stereotypical sort of assumption is that mums, you know, the only one who have children. So that, you know, to me is not doing such a great job.

Mind you, you know, they’d be looking at the data and going, “Women are the majority buyer here, so we need to talk to them.” And, yes, they’re probably doing that well. I think as a society, that’s a little bit of a problem too, because it’s excluding men from ever being able to step up into parenting. That’s also limiting women being able to be in the boardroom in the future too. So I’m really keen for us to use some of these opportunities as marketers to make some really healthy shifts in society.

Mark Jones: So how if they go on too far towards the… the female mindset if you like?

Anne Miles: Yeah. So when you see this ad, like, the, uh, themes that are following, it’s very much, um, there’s little subtle things. Firstly, it’s just very … It’s all about the community in the sense of us. It’s very much, uh, seems like safety and security, um, you know, kind of protecting and nurturing. Um, even the conversational style is very a feminine style of things. So with the mum, talking to the little girl about, you know, her, um, future life, uh, and having the imagination, and then the complexity of that story is actually very feminine as well.

Mark Jones: And also very  relational.

Anne Miles: Very relational. Yeah. That, that, um, Connecting with each other is really a very, um, a feminine thing. Little submissive, even.

Even the way that this story is very future-oriented , so they’re thinking ahead to the future of what could possibly happen. This little girl  her whole life has been mapped out ahead of her. And so that’s definitely a very feminine thing.

 Mark Jones: Quite clearly Volvo has been positioned as a family car for a long time and safety has been their primary word if you like. That they’ve used sort of strategically. Um, so its interesting to see how that concept of being exclusively in this case owned by the… you know, the sort of the female demographic in-in the mind of the creative who is behind it.

Anne Miles: Yeah. I do agree, and that’s where I feel potentially they did it a bit unconsciously. Um, since then though, they’ve done another campaign, which I really, um, applaud. And it was about being more inclusive as,  a, um, brand. And they, uh, overtook a car park in a big shopping center. And instead of it having, you know, mum, dad, and two little kids as the standard sign on the, um, parking bay for the parents with prams section, they did a whole car park with a whole mix of different combinations. And I thought that was just amazing, and to me, that was completely gender-neutral, beyond, and completely, um, diverse and really inclusive.

That was awesome.

Whereas I feel this one, I, I feel I went too far. And assuming that only, um, uh, mothers are parents, and only mothers are parents who care about safety. So I, I would like to see them be a bit more inclusive, um, you know, could have been a Dad story, or, or they could have had two ads  running something like that.

Mark Jones: Right. So  , what’s the last example you have to share?

Anne Miles: Yes, and what I’ve got is an example that I think is doing a  really good job at being gender-neutral. So … And I’m meaning that language is gender-neutral, not that the, you know, markets to audience of people who have no gender. Um, at the same time, it’s just to be warned, like, when we’re talking about creative aesthetic, in every country, there’s, like, what’s on trend. And in Australia, currently, the … some of this content is not considered on trend. However, the themes and the way that this is constructed, it’s actually really hard to find. So I found this one, and even though we can say, “Oh, look, some of the art direction isn’t exactly on our current trend in Australia.” I think it’s definitely doing the job, uh, to express what we need here.

So this is an ad for BMW as well. This is later than their original one, so it makes me think someone’s, you know, sort of learning, uh, about this as they go. Um, this ran in Asia.

So what you can see as it’s driving it, it … there’s some of it is really super subtle. So the gender-neutral space is  about being conversational. So where the masculine might have been about acronyms and jargon, and then the feminine was really sort of friendly, best girlfriend kind of thing, conversational language is inclusive of everybody. So therefore, I’m saying it’s, it’s neutral, gender-neutral. where you might have had bold claims in the BMW one and a sense of humility by contrast, in the feminine one, this one has some bit more human truths and authentic human truth, for example, would be more inclusive.

There’s really beautiful subtle things happening in this ad as well. So if you really look carefully, the male driver and the female driver actually swap through the ad. And it’s, it’s kind of indiscernible at times, but they are both taking a chance at driving. They also, um, you know, they haven’t fallen into the habit of, if someone needs to ask directions, that they leave that for the woman because the woman can’t possibly, you know, be able to navigate herself around. So thankfully, they gave that to the man in this instance, which I think is a smart move.

Sometimes you can go too far the other way, so it’s a bit of a balance.

even in the audience and the casting, they’ve got some  ambiguous gender people in there . So I think that’s quite inclusive as well. It’s a bit more about community. It’s, got a aspect of transformation in there.  And probably the biggest theme would be that it’s about the sense of community, and that together, you’ve got something,

Mark Jones: So just to jump in and… as I understand it’s really interesting to hear those three examples because we’ve gone from mostly male, mostly female then this inclusive version  it seems to me that one of the… There’s a couple of themes that’s coming through and I wanna tease out just briefly. The first is simplicity particularly in um, in the consumer space as creatives we do aim for simplicity because we want to get our message across really easily. It’s the… the billboard metaphor. Can I just get it as I drive past um, you know, at speed? So… So that’s an issue that, you know, I’d like to unpack.

And then the other one I want to unpack too is this concept of… the concept of being conscious about our creative approach to marketing and I… Y-you’ve touched on both of those themes so um, do you want to maybe start with the simplicity um, challenge that we have here? Because um, you know, we-we don’t want to confuse people and I’m no-not suggesting that the third example is confusing but there’s an intentionality that we have to uh, understand about you know, getting that message across really clearly.

Anne Miles: Yeah, I do, uh, this comes up a bit, so I do understand what you’re saying. It’s good you’ve asked. So I’ve even had people saying that being gender-neutral restricted creativity. I was like, “Are you serious?” How could that possibly be the case?”

 like any communication, regardless of what gender, you still have to  be more clear what you’re talking about. Um, when you’re doing it in a gender-neutral way, or gender-inclusive way, then I suppose you’re just gonna use certain language rather than others. There’s one other big concept that I think does this better than anything, which is about whether there’s a mind in the machine. So for example, the masculine would be the machine, and the, uh, feminine would be about the people, and probably not so much about the machine. And then what would be gender-neutral and inclusive would be that the machine has a mind in it.

So therefore, in the case of this last BMW ad that I consider gender-neutral, it’s about any machine type material has got a purpose behind it.  It’s kind of like drive with purpose, . So that’s not just about the latest driving machine, it’s about having the power of driving, and you’re an intelligent being that’s, that’s involved in this. So

Mark Jones: Yes.

Anne Miles: if you’re following those things, you can say that in a simple way, or you can say your message in a complex way.

Mark Jones: Yeah. And then so the other one was this… this consciousness maybe your… is-is your vision that we would become far more conscious uh, or to, you know, maybe to use a term from the internets, woke.

Anne Miles: Yeah, that’s right. And look, I actually classify myself as a conscious marketer. So … And I actually, like, believe in it so many different ways, not just because a straight capitalist world is not necessarily working for everybody. But at the same time, this consciousness is like, I don’t mind if you’ve got an audience that’s 100% female, and you wanna go hard at that. Then at least do it properly. And, you know, if you’ve got a masculine audience, then go hard at that. My challenge  to the marketing world is if you have, marketing material that goes to both of those audiences, then sometimes, it costs you double to reach them, because you have to produce a whole different sets of assets.

At the moment, we’re kind of trying to shoehorn each a bit kind of like, hedging our bets. Whereas this strategies, how to do it effectively and, um, cleanly without sort of missing and polarizing anyone. Like, even this other really great ad   had a couple singing, uh, sort of a rap song over a Volvo ad. And it’s funny because they’re talking me about all the, you know, terrible things that children do to their parents, and waking them up in the middle of the night, and they’re driving out in the main road to make the kids go to sleep. It’s really really funny.

And dad is involved in the parenting. It’s just ever so slightly, mums always doing the food things, and dad’s doing the fun stuff. So, uh, it doesn’t quite make it for me as being properly gender-neutral. But I would so love it. And so I just want them to be more conscious, that if you’re gonna do it, do it really well, and don’t miss those little nuances that make some of us women go, “What the hell? You don’t get me. Even though you’re trying, you just don’t get me”.


Mark Jones: Yeah. And… and what’s interesting is the speed at which your brain picks it up. Right? You see it straight away uh, and I think that’s a really big challenge for marketers to be um, really so thoughtful about it at every possible, you know, different angle so that’s a huge opportunity.  I wanted to pick up on that idea of the intentionality and the focus. Um, what’s it going to take to… get more creatives and marketers to get on board with this as uh, as a broader movement? Because I-I’d suggest that we’ve got quite a ways to go.

Anne Miles: Yeah, we definitely do. I feel like I’m a little bit of a lone voice sometimes. And I’ll be honest, I feel like even the feminists, you know, really get annoyed with me as well, because they think that they’ve … You know, I have been through, like, as much trauma, abuse, domestic violence, workplace violence, I’ve had my creative director’s penis on my shoulder in my office while I was on the phone. Like, I can’t even tell you the terrible things that I’ve experienced. So,

Mark Jones: Are you serious?

Anne Miles: Yeah, had some terrible, terrible things, on top of not having any way up, and no one ahead of me to show me that that was actually a place that was available to me.

So I’m kind of like fighting for women’s rights as much as anybody. But I also think, like, if you put a man who’s been abused and a woman who’s been abused next to each other, and for me, I’m going, “Well, one person’s not more valuable or important than the other.” Just because as a woman, I might have six more sisters standing behind me, doesn’t mean that we ignore the man who’s being abused .  And there’s like

Mark Jones: Hmm.

Anne Miles: A lot of men who are parents right now who are feeling left out too. You go and look on the supermarket shelves, full of women and babies where’s the neutrality that allows a man to feel like he can pick up the packet, and that … and he’s part of it. Or where’s the one with both parents, or multiple parents, or, you know, just put the baby! That’s gender-neutral, right?

Mark Jones: Rian asks, “does gender neutral marketing resonate in some cultures more that others?”

 Anne Miles: That’s a good question, and I actually do care, um, a lot about multi-cultural things. And there is a really great tool and consultancy called the Hofstede Insights. And Hofstede has a, like, a tool that measures culturally, you know, what things are, um, resonating more in one country versus another country, and also ranks low. If you want to compare two cultures, how they have conflict .

Um, unfortunately, masculine and then feminine themes are not always, um, measured like exactly, but there are themes within it. So if there was, like, listening to authority, or not respecting authority, um, I think maybe the countries that are more military and, um, heavy-handed kind of auth- authority figures , that’s much more masculine. So even though then this doesn’t measure it exactly like that, I think you can assign those themes.

Mark Jones: Julie asks, “what’s one small thing businesses can begin doing now to start making changes?”

Anne Miles: Please, could we go back to the, like, proper, um, strategy planning. I think one of the biggest things that companies in marketing are doing really wrong is that they look at their past sales data, and they think that defines who their audience is. It’s really hard to let go of the fact that you’ve captured the last 10, 20 years, maybe, of sales data with gender bias, other bias as well, uh, through the whole thing. So this data isn’t actually real now about what your potential audience is. So I think we got to get rid of all the sales data, to begin with, and then do some future focus.

The best example I’ve got of this is, um, Nintendo Wii. So they came out in a market where everyone’s saying, “Men only buy, um, gaming.” There’s … And, and so therefore, they were making Shoot ‘Em Up things, and all these, you know, um, violent games and whatever, and saying, “Oh, women don’t buy it.” And then they started making Lara Croft, but all they did is get Lara Croft to be like a man, but with boobs. So that was supposed to be appealing to women, which actually it was all masculine themes. So it’s not about whether a woman’s in it or not, it’s still masculine.

What happened was Nintendo Wii said, “Okay, so we’re gonna put away everything that the sales data said from the past. We’re gonna say, ‘If we were to have a future audience that was more inclusive, then what do they want from a game?'” And so what happened is they worked out that they want, uh, to be “us” themed. They wanted it to be connecting, they wanted it to have, you know, children and adults, and be ageless. And so therefore the  Nintendo Wii came out, which meant that everyone could play, and it was more successful than any of those other games were before. So a lot of people are so afraid to get rid of that sales mindset. But future is where we need to be looking.

Mark Jones: Yeah. An-and to that point I mean, you’re speaking about a CEO level conversation or senior executives and boards, right? I mean this is a whole of company focus. Um, Charlotte says in the questions, uh, “I feel like the ability to tell gender inclusive stories through our marketing practice starts with working in gender inclusive workplaces. So do you have any advice for how companies can create a more gender inclusive company culture?” There’s a cracker for you.

Anne Miles: I would say that I have not personally been successful inside a company structure, because as a woman being in that environment, then you’re already not heard. Like, I’ve had people look like grownups, and only two years ago, stare at my face while I’m speaking and act as if I’ve not said a word. The entire room heard me, and then, you know, minutes later, comes and says it out of his own mouth, and everyone goes, “Oh, what a great idea.” You know, I’m like, “Are you for real? Like, terrible.”

So I feel like I can make this impact better out of there.  Um, I think if you are in there, there are a lot of really great men at the moment, I think, who was sitting on the fence, and they’re really, um, actually supportive and wonderful.  I personally think that the feminist movement, and there’s data that supports me with this study by Cambridge University, and other international studies as well, is that feminist ranting, demanding a place in the boardroom for women, that’s actually making a lot of men who would be otherwise supportive too afraid to speak. And I think we have to stop activism feminism, and that’s why I think we need to go into … in more inclusiveness.

Mark Jones: I think the key point here is that um, this is much bigger than just marketing execution.

Anne Miles: Yeah.

Mark Jones: Some pretty macro level, you know, society and culture related things.  So Sarah says, “Is there is a brand out there that who is consistently getting gender neutral marketing right?”

Anne Miles: I have to say I really struggled to find examples. So I couldn’t tell you right now that there’s a brand that’s consistently getting this particular topic right. Um, I could answer that with a general kind of diversity, um, point of view. But this one, yeah, I, I’m sorry, but no, [laughs] I haven’t got one.

Mark Jones: So there’s an opportunity for somebody to be first there.

Anne Miles: Yes please!

Mark Jones: Um, but I do want to thank you your insights and your passion quite clearly shine through. Um, I really appreciate the time that you have given us and I do hope that this can be uh, a small contribution to the uh, the bigger conversation and something that helps, you know, advance the notion of  gender neutrality in marketing. So Anne Miles from Suits&Sneakers. Thank you so much for being our guest on The CMO Show today. It’s been fantastic.

Anne Miles: I really appreciate the chance. Anything to get this  issue addressed, I’m just so grateful to The CMO Show. Thank you.

Mark Jones: So would you reckon that was a pretty interesting interview? I really liked hearing the clarity with which she can really help us get through what can be a confusing topic for many people. Um, this idea of gender-inclusive marketing is something we all, I think, need to be ambassadors for, uh, in the creative and marketing communications industry. And, uh, one, one idea, actually, um, talking to my producer, Charlotte, she, she said, “You know, I think it, this should start in the workplace,” and I, I agree with her. How can we be more conscious in the workplace in the language that we use? How can we start retraining ourselves to be deliberately inclusive in all aspects of our life? And of course, that then flows through into our creative work.

For me, also, strategically, look at the, the unconscious bias that filters through into, uh, areas such as gender, I think is really, really important. We need to, as we interrogate ideas, just also remember that we’ve got this, um, this gender issue, um, that needs to be, um, really questioned and discussed as teams, so that we can make sure that,  we can, uh, put our best foot forward, as it were.

Thank you so much for joining us on The CMO Show.  I hope you enjoyed the show very much today. Make sure you like and subscribe and share the podcast with, uh, all your friends. Uh, you know, get it out there on the networks. We love also getting your comments and feedback. Send us ideas and guest suggestions, as always, and until next time, take care and stay safe.

The CMO Show is a podcast produced by Filtered Media. A big shout out to our producers, Charlotte Goodwin and Stephanie Woo. The show is engineered and edited by Tom Henderson, Daniel Marr, and Jonny McNee.

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