Women's winter: Toronto ad agency wants offices to adjust the thermostat

A Toronto advertising agency says it's time for modern offices to adjust the air conditioning in summer to make buildings more comfortable for women.

BBDO copywriter is behind campaign to make offices warmer for women in summer

Image from 'Change the Work Climate,' a YouTube video produced by BBDO Toronto. The video is part of a campaign to encourage women to petition their building managers in the hopes that thermostats can be adjusted. (BBDO Toronto)

A Toronto advertising agency says it's time for modern offices to adjust the air conditioning in summer to make buildings more comfortable for women.

BBDO Toronto's campaign, "Change the Work Climate," encourages women to petition their building managers to adjust the thermostat.

Domenique Raso, a copywriter at BBDO Toronto, told Metro Morning she came up with the idea because air conditioning has been an issue for her ever since she started working in office buildings. 

"Trust me. We have sweaters, we have blankets, we have scarves, we do all that already," she said.

"Men just naturally run warmer than women."

Raso said studies have shown that productivity in workplaces is lower when the air conditioning is too high, making the offices too cold, and it's harder to adjust to being too cold as opposed to being too hot. 

According to a 2015 study in the journal Nature Climate Change, most indoor office environments follow a temperature model developed in the 1960s that is based on the physiology of a 40-year-old, 154-pound man.

Given that women have slower metabolic rates than men and the temperature model is based on an average male, the study says: "This may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy-efficient in providing comfort to females."

Raso said historically, the air conditioning was set to comfort men, who outnumbered women in the workplace in the 1960s, and it would be cranked high because the men were in suits.

Shivering at her desk

Suffering in the cold prompted Raso to bring about change in her own office environment. At her office, before the campaign, Raso had a space heater under her desk and was armed with sweaters and large scarves to keep warm.

"It was really quite cold. I just remember sitting at my desk, trying to do work and actually shivering," she said. 

With the help of female co-workers, Raso said she petitioned her bosses to lower the air conditioning. The president finally called the building management.

"It is now so much better," she said.

Before launching the campaign, Raso did research on the issue and decided the ad agency itself could help to bring about change.

"We are literally in the business of persuasion. Why not launch this campaign?"

The campaign includes a website, video and hashtag. It also has a letter that can be downloaded to petition building management.