By Arianna Coghill
“We need boobs in the room.”
“Maybe if you had taken your husband’s last name, you wouldn’t be divorced.”
“Maybe if you slept with the client, we’d win.”
Those are some of the comments that advertising expert Kristen Cavallo has heard throughout her career.
She is the first female CEO of The Martin Agency, the Richmond-based advertising firm that created the Geico gecko and has partnered with iconic brands like Oreo and Discover Card.
This is Cavallo’s second stint at Martin: She worked there from 1998 to 2011, rising to senior vice president of planning and development.
After a sexual harassment scandal at the agency, Cavallo was brought back as chief executive officer, and she has been taking issues head-on like eliminating the gender wage gap and increasing diversity hires.
Cavallo shared her insights on being a female leader in the wake of the #MeToo movement during a presentation Monday at Virginia Commonwealth University. The event was sponsored by the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.
“I am a reluctant CEO,” Cavallo confessed. “I never aspired to be a CEO. I never wanted to be a CEO.”
She said she had initially believed she wasn’t afraid of failing but simply didn’t want to be tied down. “I was scared I was going to be locked in. I’ve always valued freedom more than power.”
When she got the call for the CEO position at The Martin Agency, the job wasn’t on her radar. At the time, Cavallo was president of MullenLowe Group in Boston.
However, the call forced Cavallo to ask herself a tough question about her reluctance to take the job: Did she really not want it — or was she just not confident enough?
According to recent studies, this is a problem that many women contend with. Research about the “confidence gap,” also called imposter syndrome, suggests that women are less self-assured than men in the business world.
“To succeed, confidence matters as much as competence,” Cavallo said.
According to a Hewlett Packard internal report, men are more likely to apply for a job if they meet only 60 percent of the requirements while women apply only if they meet 100 percent. This study implies that men are less likely than women to let their doubts stop them from applying.
Currently, among Fortune 500 companies, only 24 CEOs — about 5 percent — are women. That has dropped from an all-time high of 32 female CEOs in 2017.
Cavallo said there is no single reason why female leadership is scarce.
“We really need to study and understand what is happening,” Cavallo said. “Is it a pendulum swinging? Are people thinking since it’s already happening that they’re not fighting it? Are people actively fighting against it? The answer is all of the above.”
According to Elle magazine, 52 percent of women who make a higher income than their spouse believe “I should make less.” And when introducing the nuance of race, things become even more complicated.
On average, white women make 23 percent less than white men. But African-American women make 39 percent less than white men — and Hispanic women 47 percent less than white men.
Cavallo does not shy away from addressing diversity. During her past 15 months at the Martin Agency, she said she has worked hard to increase diversity, hiring and promoting people such as Danny Robinson, the firm’s new chief client officer. Robinson, who has won numerous advertising awards, is the first African American to join the agency’s top leadership team.
But Cavallo acknowledges the advertising industry still has a long way to go.
The #MeToo movement, which went viral in October 2017, centers around the prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Celebrities such as Rose McGowan and Jennifer Lawrence have stepped forward with their own accounts of the harassment they’ve faced in their careers.
When Cavallo was named CEO of The Martin Agency in December 2017, the firm was dealing with an accusation of sexual harassment by its former chief creative officer, who subsequently left the agency.
At the forum at VCU, Cavallo said she originally believed that she never faced sexual harassment in the workplace, because at the time, she didn’t feel victimized.
“Maybe there was a sense that this stuff was normal or expected,” Cavallo said.
Now in her own work environment, people can utter the safeword “ouch” if they feel someone has taken humor too far. The goal is that no one should feel uncomfortable, she said.
The Martin Agency has a female CEO but also a female chief creative officer and chief financial officer. But to Cavallo, it’s not about putting women in as many powerful positions as possible; it’s about equality.
“Men are not the enemy, because the point is equality — not reverse domination,” she said. “All that is going to do is reverse the problems.”
Historic Slave Trail at Ancarrow’s Landing Closed for Bridge Work
The closure is to work on bridges.
The Historic Slave Trail at Ancarrow’s Landing will be temporarily closed while the Trail Crew rebuilds the three worn bridges along the river. Please follow the detour signs during this time.
Pipeline Update Work Continues
The hope is that work will finish up at the end of this month. Work is taking longer than expected.
Our work continues! It’s progressing! And it’s slower than we thought it was going to be.
Our team is doing detailed, meticulous work with an abundance of care, and doing it right! They’ve also faced some less-than-ideal weather and river levels that were too high.
Our crew is essentially papier-mâché-ing a 43.13″ diameter elevated pipe located in the James River (one of our more tricky, but also more beautiful, work locations) with layers on layers of mesh and more mesh and different sized mesh and epoxy. Before all that, our crews clean each pipe segment with acetone wipes to allow for excellent adherence.
Most importantly, we are SO sorry for the delayed repair process at Pipeline–we know no one likes an elongated trail closure, but we can’t rush this important work.
We appreciate your patience as we complete these repairs to protect the James River and your health and safety when you visit this spot so many of us favor!
The latest we heard was a hope that repairs would be complete by the end of this month. We will keep you updated as we move toward that end-of-October target!
Following the completion of the repairs, our team will once again CCTV (closed-circuit television) the pipe to get an internal look. Only after we check our work and give it the green light will the trail and beaches alongside it be reopened. Until then, Pipeline trail and its adjacent beaches are closed from Brown’s Island (under the 9th Street bridge) to the downstream, eastern end of the trail behind Virginia Street and Vistas On The James.
And, finally, an important reminder: all wastewater flows have been diverted upstream at Tredegar, so any flow you may see leaking at Pipeline currently is river water that’s seeping in from Haxall Canal, groundwater, and/or stormwater from rainfall.
Carmela’s Turning Off Pizza Ovens for Good
Carmela has been serving up pizza in Shockoe Bottom for the past three years.
To our dearest customers, after careful consideration, we have decided to close our doors. We like to express our deepest gratitude to you all for your support and love for Carmela’s pizza over the past 3 years!We like to thank our whole Carmela’s team, past and present. We’re so proud of what we’ve accomplished together and couldn’t have done it without your talent and great effort of everyone involved!!We’re just incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have opened such a beautiful pizzeria. This may not be a goodbye forever, but for now, it’s the right choice for our family.Thank you again for the sweet memories and for allowing us to serve you RVALots of love,
Victor & MelindaCarmela’s