“I was being called a tomboy…”
Three women with extraordinary stories to tell took to the Cannes stage on Wednesday.
Badger and Winters CCO Madonna Badger, journalist and filmmaker Katie Couric and musician, actor, author and entrepreneur Queen Latifah joined P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard for the P&G seminar Agents of Change.
Early in the session Couric stepped in with her own question, asking moderator Pritchard her own question why he was so passionate and concerned about gender equality. He replied that it was she who had inspired him.
“You spoke at the Honoring Global Women dinner and you made me realise that business could be a force for good, and that P&G’s advertising could positively impact on how people feel about themselves,” he said. “All of three of you have produced brilliant creative work that touches hearts and changes minds, and all of you combine passion with humility and courage. Our goal here today is to inspire everyone in this room to joins us as agents of change to make a better future.”
Couric said the desire to communicate has always been with her. “I’ve always loved people and journalism, and always wanted to educate and help people navigate our crazy, confusing world,” she said. “I also was aware of the sexism out there, but I knew I could do anything. When I was offered the job at NBC I jumped at the opportunity, and eventually ended up as the first solo female news anchor at CBS. At that point I was aware of all the boys and girls and adults watching, and I really wanted to shift attitudes.”
Queen Latifah was always convinced that she could do anything boys could do. “As a girl I always loved to play soccer, baseball and basketball, but those were seen as boys’ games, and I was being called a tomboy,” she said. “That was my first experience of being denied access for being a girl and it hurt my feelings, and it made me realise that I was going to have to fight to get what I wanted.”
Madonna Badger’s story has been a long fight for equality, but one market by tragedy. “Starting my own company took a lot of courage, but really the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face in my life was losing my three kids, living through it and making the decision to get my life back and to love again. And my persistent pursuit of gender parity comes from the same courage that got me through the pain of loss,” she said. “But I would say to everyone that fighting for real equality has to come from your heart. If it doesn’t come from your soul, it means nothing.”