50% of KHWS leaders are female. This is an equality triumph, we know! How did we get there? | KHWS

50% of KHWS leaders are female. This is an equality triumph, we know! How did we get there?

Agency Life

We recently had a team lunch and the subject of ‘female leadership’ came up. With International Women’s Day 2019 around the corner, it’s a very topical subject, and the question of equality in all its guises is regularly discussed in the news, as well as between friends and colleagues, privately and publicly all over the world.

So it should be. A recent report by the World Bank noted that only Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden now enshrine gender equality in to laws affecting work. That begs the question: what is the rest of the world doing?

We reflected on oft-used phrases such as ‘glass ceiling’, and ‘lack of diversity’ as we ate. We discussed the challenges women can face at work, and climbing their respective career ladders specifically.

However, we considered our immediate team and agency and realised that at KHWS we seem to be bucking the trend in certain areas. To give you an idea, here are our numbers:


  • 50% of our Managing Partners are female.
  • 50% of our Group Account Directors are female.
  • 49% of our whole agency is female.


Pretty impressive stats, you’ll agree. These seem to eclipse that of the rest of the creative industry, where we learn that only 35% of roles are filled by women, compared to 45% in the rest of the economy. Disappointingly, only 12% of Creative Directors are women.


KHWS seems to be breaking the mould on some levels, but how?

We considered how we recruit, develop, promote, and consider succession plans. In none of these processes do we ever consider gender. We genuinely focus on impact in the role.

We always ask; what skills would/does this person bring to the role? What impact does the person have on the business? How do they work in a team? How do they drive clients and/or the agency forward?

Because we have done this for years, we have genuinely evolved into a business that views all people, whatever gender they identify as, equally. When you’re good, you’re allowed to shine, and you progress. It’s as simple as that.

But it’s not just about people processes; it’s about the female outlook.


Equality is a given.

The expectations of women are evolving. Millennial’s grew up in a world where equality is expected, and is not a new concept. They don’t even question that women and men should be paid and respected equally.

This sounds simple, but it’s actually a significant step-change in the narrative.


Pushing off from a more equal starting block.

More broadly this outlook means that the women that continue to proactively fight the equality battle now and the in the future are better equipped to push it forward than our predecessors. This is because (thanks to them), they are coming from a more equal starting point, and a genuine difference in outlook. They simply do not question themselves in this regard.

This is a hugely positive step in the right direction for all of womankind, and not just at work.