Saturday, November 18, 2017

13896: Rewriting Reality.

Advertising Age published diverted diversity droning from The Female Quotient CEO and Founder Shelley Zalis, who managed to type roughly 900 words on diversity without a single mention of race and ethnicity in the workforce (she only referenced race once, when discussing casting for ad campaigns). Zalis’ opening line underscores her primary focus on promoting White women: “When it comes to diversity in marketing, we’ve come a long way—but we still have a long way to go.” No, when it comes to diverted diversity, Madison Avenue has come a long way. But for true diversity, the advertising industry has gone a long way backwards. Racial and ethnic representation is downright Googlesque—after 60+ years of openly recognizing the issue—and Black representation has actually declined. Zalis’ second sentence explains the phenomenon: “Marketing has a unique role to play in rewriting the rules on diversity in business.” Yes, adland has managed to rewrite the rules on diversity in business—by rewriting diversity to mean gender equality first and foremost.

Diversity and Inclusion: Rewriting the Rules for Marketing

By Shelley Zalis, CEO and Founder, The Female Quotient

When it comes to diversity in marketing, we’ve come a long way—but we still have a long way to go. Marketing has a unique role to play in rewriting the rules on diversity in business.

Numerous studies show that diverse teams deliver superior results. For example, recent research found that inclusive teams make more effective business decisions up to 87% of the time. Even more compelling, Deloitte’s most recent Human Capital Trends report found that companies with inclusive talent practices can generate up to 30% higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors.

Clearly, diverse teams operating in inclusive cultures can offer ideas and viewpoints that help drive innovation and effectiveness for the business. This is especially true in marketing, where a team that reflects the incredible diversity in the marketplace is much more likely to develop messaging and advertising that resonates. Yet, even with these clear ties to results, corporate America’s approach to diversity hasn’t resulted in dramatic advancements.

For marketing organizations—and businesses in general—diversity is important, but its benefits may not be realized without an inclusive culture.

Sadly, there’s no magic wand to wave. But every little step in the right direction gets us closer to where we want to be (and is 100% better than nothing). Here are some things marketing can do to promote diversity at every level:

Hire diversity of thinking.

Throughout the hiring process, it’s worth taking time to remind decision-makers about the business value of diversity and encourage them to embrace various backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, rather than gravitating to people who are similar to themselves, which is a natural human tendency. After all, a diverse team can be more innovative and effective. To reach diverse pools of talent, it may also be helpful to broaden your recruiting sources so that you are meeting the talent you need where they already are.

Tackle the “messy middle.”

When striving to improve an organization’s diversity, hiring is literally just the beginning. For many organizations, entry-level representation is often reflective of the available talent pool. Consider gender as an example. Research shows that, on average, entry-level representation is roughly 50% women compared to 19% women in the C-suite. This is especially true in marketing, where women are often a large proportion of the workforce at lower rungs of the ladder but a much smaller proportion at higher levels.

As with hiring, decision-makers should not only make a conscious effort to embrace diversity, but also model inclusive leadership behaviors. An organization’s culture is greatly shaped by the people at the top. We need to reimagine workplace culture to retain our best talent.

While education to build awareness can be helpful, it isn’t enough. Organizations now have the ability to make structural changes and implement transparent, data-driven solutions to make better decisions that lead to more diversity and, thus, better business outcomes, according to Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends.

Vote with marketing dollars.

Marketing is uniquely positioned to shape how people think and should use that position to create positive change. It’s not just about making sure ad campaigns feature different races, genders and ages; it’s about making sure that different kinds of people are portrayed in a fair, accurate and realistic way—instead of cynically or lazily relying on age-old stereotypes that prey on and reinforce society’s existing biases.

In June 2016, my company, The Female Quotient, partnered with the Association of National Advertisers and its Alliance for Family Entertainment to launch #SeeHer, an initiative to help achieve a more accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising and the media. So far, more than 1,000 brands, with $40 billion of U.S. ad spend, have joined and signed up to use the Gender Equality Measure to assess and eliminate bias in their advertising. And more companies are signing up every day.

A way to take this a step further is to include explicit diversity requirements in RFPs and agency partners. To win work, marketers can look for tangible evidence that their agency is committed to hiring and developing a diverse workforce and fostering an inclusive culture. Not only is that likely to land a better result, it begins to set a standard of expectation beyond your organization.

The ultimate goal: Driving empathy, not sympathy

At the end of the day, good feelings and supportive words are nice, but to really make a difference, decision-makers should bring the rational decision of supporting diversity back to the human level through an inclusive culture. Supporting a culture of empathy is what we’re really driving at—so that we can understand people and different ways of thinking and truly value those for the insight they bring. When that happens, it is likely that inequality will begin to shrink and strength will begin to build as those numbers change throughout the ranks. After all, one person at the top of an organization has power, but a group of committed leaders has impact.

This could be the start of a major positive trend, and marketing is at the heart of the action. To change how people behave, we need to change how they think. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what marketing is all about?

Shelley Zalis is CEO and founder of The Female Quotient. Launched in 2013, The Female Quotient emphasizes collaboration and mentorship to activate change in advancing gender equality in the workplace. It leads The Girls’ Lounge, a destination at conferences, companies and college campuses where women connect, collaborate and activate change together. The Girls’ Lounge has become the largest community of corporate women and female entrepreneurs transforming workplace culture. Deloitte Digital and The Female Quotient have joined forces to deliver joint programming that continues to promote equality and inclusion in the workplace, and the shared belief that they aren’t a social imperative—they’re a business imperative.

Friday, November 17, 2017

13895: Scared Straight Is Scary.

It’s easy to imagine how the idiots responsible for “Scared Straight Out of Advertising” thought they had a brilliant idea, as hacks rarely realize they are hacks. But this video is heinous on so many levels, from the global stereotyping to the clichéd script to the substandard production values. The exclusive millennials casting displays a true ignorance of the audience too. In the end, the video actually succeeds in positioning the advertising industry as a place to avoid.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

13894: Google Doodle Dawdle.

Today’s Google Doodle features renowned Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, celebrating the late artist on what would have been his 87th birthday. Wonder what Achebe might think about the colonialistic conditions at Google…

13893: Moronic Millennial Muttering.

The latest bellyache in the Digiday “Confession Series” comes from an “Agency Millennial” who declared, “Nobody wants to help each other.” Boo-hoo. Actually, the young executive instantly invalidated any potential credibility with his/her opening line: “I work at a digital agency.” Sorry, but toiling at a digital agency is a few rungs below serving as a Starbucks barista.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

13892: Remaking Exclusivity.

Adweek published a report titled, “Agencies Are Remaking Themselves to Satisfy Client Demands”—detailing how “up-and-coming shops” are creating fresh business models. The story makes no mention of diversity, despite the alleged client demands for inclusion at White advertising agencies. Plus, the accompanying illustration (depicted above) features no clear diversity. Brilliant.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

13891: Side Effects Of Racism.

NPR published a report titled, “Scientists Start To Tease Out The Subtler Ways Racism Hurts Health.” The researchers should consider using the advertising industry as a rich source for data.

Monday, November 13, 2017

13890: Comeuppance Not Coming.

Advertising Age published diverted diversity delirium from Texas Christian University Professor and Chair of Strategic Communication Jacqueline Lambiase, who wondered why the advertising industry is not experiencing a Sexual Harassers Exposure and Expulsion like what’s currently happening in Hollywood. Oddly enough, Lambiase inadvertently answered her own question. For starters, the alleged victims are reluctant to call out the perpetrators by name. Anyone who wants to see the potential rewards of harassment whistleblowing need only view the trials and tribulations of JWT Chief Communications Officer Erin Johnson for clarity. Indeed, when Lambiase shared her personal experiences, detailing a confrontation with an advertising agency that allegedly harassed student interns under Lambiase’s charge, the professor opted not to openly identify the culprits. While Lambiase is “asking that you raise your voice” to put an end to sexual harassment, she fails to do so herself—even though she’s technically an outsider with less to lose than women working in the field.

Madison Avenue will probably avoid publicly addressing sexual harassment in the same way that the industry avoids addressing its diversity problems. Hell, the discrimination directed at people of color far exceeds the harassment aimed at women—and the industry has managed to deny it for over 60 years. Before spotlighting adland’s sexual harassers, the exposé should begin by tagging the individuals consciously and unconsciously obstructing diversity. This group would be comprised of White men and White women, outnumbering the harassment offenders by a very wide margin. Lambiase should confront the diversity resistors and pose her “Where were you?” question, requesting an explanation for executing hiring practices that extend exclusivity, despite having full awareness of the need and obligation to diversify. She could see how the ruling majority has been silent and complicit in the prevention of progress. And it would ultimately reveal that the sexual harassment dilemma pales in comparison.

Where Is Advertising’s Comeuppance on Sexual Harassment?

By Jacqueline Lambiase


For the ad industry, near silence has followed weeks of sensational revelations about Hollywood’s long-standing sexual harassment and rape culture.

While those Hollywood allegations have filled this publication’s pages, a short roll call of of advertising industry giants has not occurred. This is despite Cindy Gallop’s call for action in mid-October for an industry reckoning.

But what exactly does this silence represent? Does it mean ad agencies and others in the business are quietly attending to these issues and purging their ranks of perpetrators?

That interpretation is too good to be true.

What if the ad business isn’t going to have visible actions and symbolic reactions to rid itself of sexual harassers still in its ranks? Then it must gain more visibility in questioning itself and its historical treatment of women to build a better future for all practitioners.

I know sexual harassment exists because this has been the testimony of some of my students. Sexism and harassment can be especially acute for female interns.

A few years ago, my campus refused to carry job postings from a local agency after women reported they had been sexually harassed and used as sex objects at agency events. With two other employees on my campus, I confronted the agency leadership.

When agency principals tried to sidestep their own responsibility, saying the main perpetrator was no longer an employee, I asked them this question: “Where were you?” The two men representing the agency had no good answers. They had attended the sexualized events and were aware of the harassment. But they had been silent, complicit.

One year ago, we asked them to write a report about how conditions at their agency had changed. We are still waiting on that report.

Other negative behaviors often accompany harassment at agencies like this one, according to our students. This includes alcohol consumption and underage drinking on the premises during business hours, and insane working hours for interns.

It is my job to speak up on behalf of young professionals, both women and men, and to ask these questions of the industry now: Where are the voices of those who have been sexually harassed in the ad business? Who should be driven from this industry? Why the silence?

In addition to coverage of Gallop’s call to action, at least a few voices have sounded off on the prevalence of sexual harassment in these pages.

In August 2016, Ad Age published results from a 4A’s study, showing that “half of women in advertising have experienced sexual harassment at least once.” The same study found that one-third of the women respondents believed they had not received promotions or the best projects at work because of discrimination.

Earlier that same year, 4A’s President Nancy Hill urged the industry both to acknowledge its problems and to create healthier working cultures within it.

Working from another vantage point, many academic scholars, including myself, have conducted research on sexist images produced by the ad industry. These images fit the narratives now coming from Hollywood women: women as sex objects and decorations; men as powerful and violent.

These images may also serve as mirrors for some in the ad industry itself.

As a professional woman who has encountered sexism and sexual harassment in my own working life, and who has observed it across nearly three decades of research, I will not be silent.

By standing up for my students, I’ve tackled this issue recently in my own community. That is where I have power to speak truth, to confront, to refuse to do business with those who are complicit in harassment, and to counsel young women who have experienced it.

Countless surveys of women, workplace policies, and gender-equality and gender-equity initiatives have not made enough difference. This national moment should not be dismissed as disconnected from our industry.

I’m asking that you raise your voice, in your own large or small professional spaces. That’s where you have power to identify and stop harassers and harassment. It’s the only way that this will ever end.

Jacqueline Lambiase, Ph.D., is professor and chair of strategic communication at Texas Christian University. With Tom Reichert, she has edited and authored two books on the use of sexuality in advertising.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

13889: Mumm Dumb.

Not sure why anyone thought this Mumm Champagne commercial featuring Usain Bolt would be a good idea. Maybe Bolt viewed it as an audition of sorts for Dancing With The Stars.