Advertising, like lots of professions, seems to hold on to something of a self-perpetuating negative myth around itself. No young professional enters their industry with innate characteristics (bankers aren’t born greedy). Those are stereotypes, but like lots of stereotypes, they indulge lazy, backward thinking and actually help to feed the stereotypes, allowing the bad apples the space to operate. 
 
Think of the lawyer, sleezily commenting on a LinkedIn photo. Representative of the profession as a whole? No – but indicative that some within it are loath to join the 21st century. The boys club may be on the way out but the female legal professional is still more likely to be judged (and expect to be judged) on their looks as a result of this essential lack of respect.
 
The ad world has its own special set of types who seem rooted in the past. We’ve certainly come across our fair share of macho, alpha wolves. The type of person who thinks the characters in Mad Men are ideal behavioural models. The type who, despite working in a creative industry, doesn’t allow for deviation from their line of thinking, who (often aggressively) shuts down debate and throws their weight around. This type typically has an inflated sense of self-worth and isn’t shy about making others feel small to help boost themselves. Psychiatrist, Donald Nathanson seems to have our stereotype in his sights when he said “…attacking others not only halts any inclination to look within themselves, it also can be exciting as it stimulates the physical experience of power.” 
 
This person exists in all areas of life, but advertising, with it’s hierarchical systems and often large accounts, seems to especially encourage it. 
 
Well, not here. Respect, based on the crazy idea that we treat others as we’d like to be treated ourselves, is not just a throwaway word at Hello Starling. It’s a cornerstone of our business values. We treat clients and suppliers with the respect they deserve, not just as valued clients or suppliers, but as people. Which is the reason why we think it just as important that every cog of the organisation, from our cleaning team to our senior management, is treated with the same level of basic, human dignity. It doesn’t just make us feel happier about coming to work. We genuinely believe that it makes business sense too, ensuring that our staff and clients will enjoy longer, more fruitful relationships with us as a result of this shared respect. 
 
Quite frankly, and we don’t think we are alone here, we’ve had enough of the Don Draper wannabes.

 
By Oliver Brown