This article was originally published on Mumbrella by Alex Hayes.

It pains me to have to write an explainer piece on where the dozen or so senior men in the now infamous ‘Gentleman’s Gin Club’ went wrong – but once again it appears sadly necessary.

If the picture of the chaps getting together had been posted on Facebook with the caption ‘great night having a blazer fitting for our trip to the Sydney Carnival’ it would have been the usual Facebook filler.

The Gentleman’s Gin Club has sparked debate about equality and political correctness in the industry

But by posting a picture of some of the most influential people in the ad tech universe locally, alongside arguably the most influential voice and buyer of ad tech in the country in GroupM’s Tim Whitfield, the title ‘Gentlemen’s Gin Club’ inevitably caught attention.

It smacks of deals being done behind closed doors, ‘gentlemen’s agreements’ and other such Machiavellian dealings. Knowing some of these chaps I’m sure that wasn’t what was happening or the intention, but perception makes a big difference.

And even then it could have been explained away as a throwaway headline with a simple explanation to someone who is clearly Facebook friends with one of the chaps pictured, explaining this wasn’t a formal group but a blazer fitting for a trip to the races.

After all that’s the narrative that is now being spun, but quite clearly that’s reverse engineered.

All of the comments under the original post point to the intentions for this to be a regular event.

Indeed Adam Furness describes it as “the club’s inaugural meeting”, adding they will be “meeting quarterly, and part of the meetings will be having guest speakers on various topics”.

If it looks like a club and is described as a club, I’d say it’s a club.

Now as a bloke I do occasionally get together with male friends for a drink. Usually this comes around a sporting event we have a mutual interest in, and some of them even work in the industry – although that’s extremely tangential to my hanging out with them outside of work hours.

At no point have I or any of them looked to call it a club, make sure women can’t come, or decide it’ll be a quarterly meeting where women can come and try to pitch to us why they should be allowed into the club and what we can do to help them.

Again I’m sure many of these men support and promote women in the industry, and are aware of the issues. Which is what makes the conscious decision to exclude women from the group all the more puzzling and frustrating.

And that’s the difference here, as clearly explained in the exchanges on Facebook by members of the group themselves.

This article was originally published on Mumbrella by Alex Hayes.


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