Diversity Is More Than A Magazine Insert


Copyranter pokes fun at yesterday's New York Times Magazine Leadership on Diversity advertising section which served as a platform for companies to pontificate about their sensitivity to diversity and the actions they've taken to insure they are fair to all. Copyranter particularly liked the ad from the Department of Homeland Security which featured an image of a Muslim woman. While poking fun, Copyranter also points out a truism in our industry, writing, "Half of the ads lamely crammed the word Diversity right in the headline, as some very junior (and very white) copywriters just outta ad school spent about five pissed off minutes working on this lowly assignment before handing the first two lines that popped into their heads into their creative directors. Whew. That's outta the way. Onto the much more important men's body spray print ad."

Very white indeed which is why Adrants has partnered with Business Development Institute to host the Advertising Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference to tackle the currently very hot topic of diversity and what agencies are doing to make sure they are fair in their hiring practices. Now, it's been said other industries offer much higher pay and much better future opportunity than advertising so what minority (or majority for that matter) in their right mind would choose advertising over, say a Wall Street job? Well, that's what the conference hopes to explore - is the industry all white because it is being exclusive or is it because that's the natural order of things in the old boy's network?

by Steve Hall    Sep-25-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Magazine, Newspaper   

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O.K.! Here's my personal Jerry Maguire moment to uncloak the 100lb gorilla in the room; if diversity is such a systemic problem at the agency level, what about the lack of media dollars and ad business not being spent with African American ad agencies and media outlets?

Whew! Now that it's been said, does anyone really care? What justifications exist for a lack of comparatively equal media spending with African American media when they index a similar number and reach of viewers as comparable white media? How does one explain that minority owned ad agencies win such miniscule portions of advertising accounts when the very same African American consumer that's coveted by so many brands is responsible for contributing so much revenue to the bottom line of those brands? In fact, here's a question I've been asking for some time and wishing that I could get a straight answer to; what does it mean in an era of supposed tolerance and acceptance for racial diversity that a Federal Law still has to exist that forces companies to 'set aside' a specifc budget for minority allocation? Does this mean that left to their own devices, a majority of companies would not spend ANY money with minority owned companies? Could this in fact be true? After all, it seems reasonable to assume that the very same cultures responsible for the introduction of so many cultural, social and scientific contributions should be coveted rather than shunned!

Somehow therefore, the trumpeting of one's 'diversity' is fast becoming a banner which highlights a previous (and possibly ongoing!) lack of inclusion and immersion rather than an achievement ofany cultural significance. Cultural diversity should be plain to see within the ranks of any company employee team, business partnership or client/vendor relationship rather than having to be explicitly discussed and/or displayed during the 'appropriate time' of the year. If, as we know in this business, great ideas come from everywhere, the industry has for some strange reason, cut itself off from an undeniably rich source of ideas and relevant social commentary; certainly not the action expected of a community that prides itself on a holistic view of the human experience and how that experience can better allow brands to relate to consumers.

OK! I'm done! It's just a shame that in OUR industry, where there should be no walls of division, we've done an excellent job of mirroring what exists in society at large...Maybe we aren't the champions of free, creative and global communication we think we are but merely automatons, self programmed to maintain the status quo we claim to abhor.

Posted by: Ru-El Burford on September 25, 2006 2:08 PM