Ass-Plucked Agencies Peck Around Diversity Hiring Puzzle
With nowhere left to run, agencies like Ogilvy are biting the bit and listing goals for minority hiring in '07, which include such ambitions as 16% minority new hires at exec level and 33% at the general level. Interpublic's created a minority incubator to nurture them through those first few payless, sleepless years in agency life. And others, like Arnold Worldwide multicultural programs director Tiffany Warren, are simply prostrating themselves in desperation: "I beg, I plead with [young minorities]: I tell them they'll make a real difference," she says.
Despite best intentions by agencies, however, nobody is out of the clear yet. A major critique of Ogilvy's percentage goals is that agencies can't gauge at the outset who or how many they'll hire, fire and promote in a given year. Additionally, the definition for "minority" is left up to the agencies themselves, meaning for the few who blanket "nonwhites" under the term, women remain an unprotected scarcity. You also get a symptomatic reverse-racism effect that can be awkward for the minority, agency and other employees involved: "You've got to have senior, visible minorities who can act as validation" that the industry has opportunities, says Ogilvy co-CEO Bill Gray.
Is there any way merit gets to play into this? Nobody wants to walk around knowing they get the Gucci suit because big O had a minority deficit.