Why has she gone?

Did you know, of the 56% women and non-binary people making up the advertising and creative industries, 10% resigned in 2021 before reaching anywhere near retirement age? But what prompted them to leave the creative roles they fought so hard to gain, and once found so fulfilling?


It’s only by understanding the causes of the Great Resignation that we can retain more women and non-binary people. So, SheSays have conducted a survey to find out the key reasons they leave our industry and turned real people’s candid responses into a series of brutally honest resignation letters to highlight the issue for International Women’s Day. The letters released as social media posts for all to read and share, contain the often witty, sometimes tragic, usually frustrating, and unfortunately very relatable accounts of those leaving our creative industries.


Here are the five top causes given by women and non-binary people for resigning from the creative industries, and useful steps individuals and organisations can take to tackle them: 

Dear Ad Industry, please accept my resignation. I love writing scripts that 'open on a happy family', but I don't love working 80 hours a week at the expense of mine. We open on my happy family, former copywriter.

1. She didn’t get the right mental health support   


Everyone has mental health, but the pressures of our industry seem to hit women and non-binary people harder, with surviving in a relentlessly male-dominated industry and balancing the demands of childcare and work seemingly to be to blame.   


If you or those in your organisation are struggling with anxiety, depression, burn out, stress, or bereavement, check out this link to the Mental Health First Aid Kit for advice on better support.

Dear design agency, please accept my resignation. I've given you 30 years of blood, sweat, tears and award-winning ideas. In return you couldn't even give me 30 minutes to process my hot flush. Yours truthfully, was a designer.

2. She wasn’t able to take a pause for menopause


For women and non-binary people who are still in creative industries when they reach menopausal age, this represents another particularly tricky time. Dealing with the mental and physical challenges and changes menopause throws at us, combined with ageism, stigma, and a lack of understanding from male colleagues can be incredibly hard.


Retaining senior people and their vast experience is key to a balanced organisation and creating effective advertising for a huge segment of society. So, if you or those in your organisation are experiencing menopause and need support read How To Manage Menopause In The Workplace and if you’re an organisation you can also take the Menopause Workplace Pledge.

Dear creative industries please accept my resignation you ignore me in meetings then can't leave me alone on nights out so I'm going somewhere you can't reach me not yours anymore ex creative director

3. She was sick of sexual harassment


The #MeToo Movement has come a long way to call out and stand up to sexual harassment across all industries. Unfortunately, the creative industries still have a long way to go, and sadly both subtle and overt sexual harassment were cited as major reasons for women and non-binary people leaving the creative industries.


It goes without saying sexual harassment shouldn’t be tolerated on any level. To find out how both individuals and organisations can prevent and tackle sexual harassment read this guide Sexual Harassment Resource.



Dear creative industries I'm resigning from you you see being called bossy bolshy overly passionate and dramatic for expressing my creative opinion isn't the title I signed up for kind regards call me strat director

4. She hated the sexism


Sexism can take many forms; it might be being asked to pour the coffee in a meeting, it might be only being put on female brands, or it might be a company’s attitude to maternity leave. Every expression of sexism is unacceptable in 2023, and the build-up of experiences certainly contributes to women and non-binary people leaving the industry in droves.


Stopping sexism starts with being more aware of what constitutes sexism. If you’re experiencing sexism, or are an organisation trying to eradicate it, check out this great resource to help you Sexism Resource.

Dear ad industry please accept my resignation you're all about diversity until the big client wants to cast everyone blonde and fair, which isn't fair at all Indian and offended ex art director

5. She realised racism is still rife


Racism obviously applies to men too, but being a woman or non-binary on top of being a person of colour can be doubly ostracising. It’s no surprise then, that racism is still a major reason for leaving our creative industries.


We live in a diverse world and need our creative industries to be welcoming to people of all cultures and skin colours, so that we can speak to the entire audience. If you’re experiencing racism or unconscious bias, or you’re an organisation who wants to stamp out racism and increase diversity, take a look at this resource for tips Anti Racism Resource.

Back to news