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As anyone who’s seen Mad Men knows, the advertising world was a (straight, white) boys’ club for much of the 20th century. Things, thankfully, are changing, as illustrated by Jenn Renoe. The media director for Publicis Health Media was recently named to Ad Age ’s Leading Women list; her inclusion was a first for an out transgender woman.
“That I was chosen by the Ad Age staff and not by nomination really reinforced for me that, as hard as this work can be, it is impacting change,” Renoe says.
Renoe admits 2023 was especially difficult for trans female professionals, particularly those in the advertising sphere. With brands like Target and Bud Light rolling back support for trans equality — and young trans influencers like Dylan Mulvaney — in light of online hate, it can feel like corporate support for LGBTQ + employees and customers is less than solid. The skittishness also has a frightening ripple effect, Renoe says.
“[The brand reversals have] made other companies nervous to act on initiatives to support our communities at the very moment we need it the most,” says Renoe, adding that it’s imperative to push those who continue to support our communities to do more.
“It’s been critical to focus on those who have moved from allies to advocates, who care about doing the work to champion our cause in order to overcome the stress, fear, and hate that surrounds us daily in today’s world,” she says.
As a prominent trans executive who also identifies as lesbian, disabled, and neurodivergent, Renoe feels a responsibility to those entering the workforce. “I’m hoping to launch a podcast to profile successful LGBTQ+ professionals who are leading what our society would consider to be ‘normal’ lives,” Renoe says. “I’ve spoken with many students who’ve voiced fears of needing to go back into the closet after graduation because they don’t see examples of us thriving in professional communities. The truth is there are so many of us achieving professionally, and we deserve to be seen, heard, and celebrated.” @jenninrinth
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