Woke Gillette's Carolyn Tastad: "We Have a Responsibility to Challenge Masculinity" | HBR News 212

Join us on the HBR News show as we look at the honks of the week in clownworld, from #metoo claiming comedian Chris Kattan and Martin Luther King, to the strange snapchat filter that speaks of love knowing know age, and the big story is Gillette's Carolyn Tastad on the reason why we have to challenge toxic masculinity with woke advertising. Tune in @6pm Eastern!

Show notes:

Don't Hurt Me, No More

By Mike J.

In his memoir, Baby Don't Hurt Me: Stories and Scars from Saturday Night Live, Chris Kattan, claims that in the late 90s he was pressured into sex with director Amy Heckerling by producer Lorne Michaels. At the time Kattan was working on the the movie A Night at the Roxbury which Michaels was producing and Heckerling was slated to direct, though eventually only produced. Kattan claims that Heckerling, who at the time was riding the fame of her movie and TV series Clueless, bluntly approached Kattan one night while on set and asked when the two would have sex. "I was shocked. Was she joking?" Kattan states in his memoir. In a call with Michaels the following day, Kattan claims Paramount would only produce the movie if Heckerling was directing. Michaels allegedly told Kattan that if he "wanted to make sure the movie happened, then [he] had to keep Amy happy." and "Chris, I'm not saying you have to f*** her, but it wouldn't hurt." According to Kattan, he was also instructed not to discuss this matter with anyone else. Weeks later, at a post-party, Kattan and Heckerling did eventually have sex. About the encouter, Kattan writes, "'The last thing I wanted was to have someone hear Lorne say 'career ender' about me. To this day, whenever I think about that conversation with Lorne, I still feel repellingly pathetic. She thought it would be fun to have sex on Lorne's desk. I said a polite 'F***, no!' to that', so we ended up going to her office and having sex on… yep, you guessed it, the 'casting couch'. I was attracted to Amy, but at the same time very afraid of the power she and Lorne wielded over my career."


The Martin Luther #MeToo

By Mike J.

David Garrow, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for a biography about Martin Luther King Jr., claims to have unearthed classified FBI documents that paint King in a seedier light. While King was a known womanizer and did cheat on his wife, what has been discovered, if true, makes that seem tame by comparison. Through a series of wiretaps, bugs, and informants the FBI compiled memos concerning King and the company he kept. King allegedly joked crudely and sexually concerning women with his friends. Official FBI documents claim that he would "participate in sex org[ies]” where “acts of degeneracy and depravity" would occur. Most shockingly, King is alleged to have looked on, laughed, and offered advice while a friend who was also a Baptist minister raped a woman who was a member of the congregation. While the archive of written memoirs is available to the public to view, the original surveillance tapes remain sealed by a judge's order until 2027.



Snapchat: “Love has No Age”

Andrew G

If you’re seeing rainbows everywhere on your social media and are a bit confused, it is because June is Pride Month. Snapchat introduced a new filter called “Love has no Labels” to promote Pride Month. However, some individuals noticed that one of those new filters said “Love has no Age.” By June 3rd, the “Love has no labels” filter was still on Snapchat, but the option to select “Age” was removed.




Quartz’s Interview with the Exec Behind the Gillette Ad


The executive behind the Gillette ad claims companies have a responsibility to challenge ‘toxic masculinity’.  

Carolyn Tastad, the Procter & Gamble executive behind “the best men can be” ad as well as contributor to other marketing campaigns like Always’ #LikeAGirl, believes corporate America must step up efforts to achieve gender equality.

In an interview with Quartz she said:  

The Gillette campaign, which I’m so proud of, takes on this other important conversation about modern masculinity. This campaign puts the spotlight on great men holding other men to the highest standards and really being role models for the next generation. We believe we can spark dialogue that can really motivate change.”

The reality is today, stakeholders of all kinds, whether it’s consumers, investors, or employees, they expect more from brands than just selling products. They want to know what they believe in. […] And that was the impetus for Gillette. They were saying, ‘We are a brand that for many years has shaped perceptions of masculinity and we’ve helped create what it means to be the best a man can get.’ And the shift that the brand team made is going from ‘the best a man can get’ to ‘the best a man can be.’”

On the public reaction Tastad said:  

[…] We got tremendous kudos. If you think about Generation Z, millennials under 30—those consumers expect brands not to be silent on important issues. They expect brands to take these on. And so we got very positive comments. I mean, the role of men matters in this space, right? Men need to play an equally important role as women in eliminating bias, promoting equality, demonstrating positive social and cultural behavior. You know, all too often we talk about gender inequality as a woman’s problem. But it has to be something that is an issue for all of us, it’s about men and women advocating for a more equal world.”

On P&Gs efforts around gender equality and Tastad’s role as “the gender equality executive sponsor”, she said:

P&G picked three areas. Firstly, as the world’s largest advertiser, we should use our voice in advertising and media to tackle bias. Second, we want to use our corporate voice to tackle bias, which includes improving access to STEM education for girls, or working with governments in developing countries to change legislation so women have access to work. The things we’re working on are very education and economic opportunity-based. Third, it’s the work we’re doing inside to get to 50:50 representation.”

More than 47% of our managers globally are women. At the more junior levels we are 50:50 and making very consistent progress all the way to the top of the house. In terms of our global leadership council, 40% of our company leaders are women. We’ve been really intentional and stepping that up.”


Speaking about representation at different levels, women are usually underrepresented in senior executive roles. Do you feel pressure to change that, and what has your experience been in ascending the corporate ladder?


We think about representation of women from every angle and every vector of intersectionality—women of color, LGBTQI, people with disabilities. We’re very intentional about this and this is something our company believes in deeply. From my personal experience, I’ve worked [over 30 years] for a company with great values.

I also grew up in a very equal household. My dad was a farmer, my mom was a school teacher. My dad did things at home in the winter when he was not in the field, and my mom did more of it in the summer—that’s just how it was. And then I went to Toronto to work for P&G. It was the most diverse city in the world, I always had women around me. In 1993, I moved to Hunt Valley, Maryland and joined my first all-male lead team. My manager at the time said, ‘We’re so happy to have you on our team because you’re going to add diversity to our team.’ And I kind of stopped. I know I had this quizzical look on my face, and I said, ‘Is that because I’m Canadian?’ It was only two weeks later when I realized he was referring to me being a woman. So equality is a core value for me, and P&G has the opportunity and influence to impact it. Women are important to our business.”

On how male employees can contribute to these conversations about masculinity and equality within a company Tastad mentions working in partnership with Catalyst. She says, “Catalyst’s Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) program is an experiential workshop which is really about driving deeper understanding of privilege and power bias. In order for us to make progress, we have to understand how power and bias show up everyday and we have to know how to deal with them. So that’s been one example of training that we’ve done so that we can have the necessary conversations and go deep enough. You’ve got to go deep on this stuff. You can’t leave it at the surface if you want to make progress.”

Tastads advice to other companies wanting to start these conversations about masculinity is to address the problem of bias. “The bias that perpetuates a lack of progress, or the bias that becomes a narrative that becomes an excuse for not making progress. For example, ‘there’s not enough women in the pipeline.’ That’s false. So there are many things that get perpetuated through biases. The biggest issue is we have to deal with the insidiousness of that.”

My biggest piece of advice to other business leaders and other companies is, you must be intentional. [Approaching conversations about masculinity and gender equality] has got to be aligned to your values and you’ve got to believe it deeply. And it has to be driven from the top all the way through the organization. Everybody talks about inclusive environments and all the rest of it, but it’s insufficient to talk about it. You must be very intentional in the work that you do everyday to bring this to life, whether it’s in your business strategy, whether it’s in a more disciplined and deliberate approach to talent management and talent systems, to driving equality-based policies and practices, and frankly, to broadening our definition of what a leader looks like. Because too often we just default to this dated stereotype [of what a leader looks like]. We’ve got to have targets and quotas with intentional actions underneath, and that’s got to be led at the top of the company. So there’s my one important word for you: intentionality.”


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