The explosion of the #MeToo movement in late 2017 has forced many brands to shake up their thinking around workplace inclusion and address how they can create equal opportunities and experiences for men and women.

US Glamour editor-in-chief Samantha Barry has been seeking to redress the balance of women working in the fashion industry. Speaking at an Accenture Interactive panel at Cannes Lions yesterday (19 June), Barry pointed out that while there is no shortage of women wanting to work in fashion, only 14% of run fashion companies in an industry powered by the female dollar.

After extensive research her team identified a problem occurring specifically in the middle of women’s careers.

“We found that women come into the fashion industry very ambitious with lots of hopes and dreams, but somewhere in the middle either they don’t get the promotion they deserve or they don’t ask for the promotions that they want, and starting a family became an issue for some of them,” she explained.

“I think sometimes it’s easy to be in an industry and assume that equality is fine. You have to bring men into the conversation, so we collaborated with GQ. I think #MeToo is getting into the second stage and how we can talk about how #MeToo is changing workplaces without bringing men into it?”

If men aren’t involved in the conversation how are we ever going to progress?

Barnaby Dawe, Just Eat

Working with Condé Nast stablemate GQ, the Glamour team interviewed thousands of men anonymously and discovered what Barry describes as an “undercurrent of men” in the post #MeToo era who had taken on a “Mike Pence role” (in reference to the US vice president), where they won’t be alone with a woman or have dinner with a woman that they work with. She noted that this kind of attitude can be very stifling to women’s careers.

While she runs a team of mainly women and Condé Nast in the US has an executive committee with an even gender split, the Glamour editor admitted that her company is far from the norm. Barry also argued that having a woman at the very top of a business is not necessarily always the answer.

“It’s not about having a woman at the top, it’s about having those stairs where women can see themselves going to the next level,” she explained.