Equality POVs

Talent Without Prejudice

Photograph: Cannes

Last year Mindshare won the Glass Lion Grand Prix at Cannes for the creation of India's first transgender pop band, the Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band. The Glass Lion awards creative work that helps to shift culture and addresses and impacts gender inequality.  

This year the Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band joined Nilufar Fowler, Global Client Leader at Mindshare, on stage to perform and discuss how the creation of the band has driven a positive cultural shift for the transgender community in India.  

After a sensational performance from the band, Charlotte Beers former CEO at Ogilvy & Mather and a former Undersecretary of State in the US; Maggie Semple, entrepreneur and social justice advocate and Ida Rezvani, Team IHG Lead for WPP, took to the stage to discuss how the equality debate is evolving and what it really takes for talent to trump prejudice.

Details & Implications

The lively panel debate highlighted the complexities of this subject. Semple described her definition of equality as people who are rewarded on merit no matter of gender, race or religion. Beers offered a different view, saying meritocracy is not the only answer as lots comes into play that gets in the way for women. Beers elaborated, saying that women need to learn the inside code words used by the leadership team: "The language gap has to be closed," says Beers. "It is up to women to be seen and heard.”

Rezvani offered the view that diversity makes smart business sense and there wouldn’t be one CEO on La Croisette not looking to get ahead in business. “If you have a more ethnically diverse workforce, you will be more economically successful," said Rezvani. Arguing that as an industry we have to reflect the people of the world - our clients’ consumers.

Fowler was able to gauge how the industry has evolved in its approach to gender and equality through her representation on the Glass Lion jury this year. She talked about a deeper commitment from the industry that was reflected in the work, but is “still depressed” that only a minority of entries have men as part of the solution for driving equality. This echoed Beers’ view that men need to be part of the conversation in order to really drive change.

Panellists agreed no woman wants to be part of the quota and that people don't respond very well to being told what to do. Instead, they need to own the problem in order to find the solution.


The session began with the story of the Brooke Bond Red Label 6 Pack Band and how they have become a symbol of positive transformation for the transgender community and equality conversation. The session ended with four female leaders collectively agreeing more needs to be done to drive equality. There was one message that was consistent across the entire seminar - equality is evolving to be far greater than just gender and statistics. And its time we all just go on with it.

The final words of wisdom came from Beers. When asked what is the one action people should take to make a difference, she said: “If you are a senior guy, move over so a woman can take your job.”

Written by EJ Steele