Essay Eighty-Six presented a column that appeared in the latest issue of Marketing y Medios, along with the standard MultiCultClassics rebuttal. The author of the original viewpoint graciously posted a response. Essay Eighty-Seven continues the discussion. Readers are encouraged to view the previous essay and response before perusing below.
Dear Henry Louis Gómez:
First and foremost, thank you for reading and writing. Your participation in the MultiCultClassics experiment is honestly appreciated. The following attempts to clarify statements and advance the debate.
Your comment regarding the condescending tone indicates you’re a new visitor to the blog. Welcome to the party.
Rest assured, the entire point of your perspective was not missed. In fact, it was completely understood. While there is concurrence in certain sections, there is disagreement in others. Surely you didn’t expect folks to praise every word you wrote. After all, if your position were irrefutable, there would have been no need to publish it.
Please spend more time studying affirmative action, as your beliefs on the subject are somewhat blurred. Affirmative action was never intended to be a long-term or absolute solution for anything. The goal of affirmative action is to level playing fields and create equal opportunities. It’s not about “discriminating in favor” of anyone; rather, it tries to combat the continued biased behavior that disables qualified candidates from getting a fair shot. Affirmative action is not a legal mandate. Otherwise, our industry would never be so awful in the area of diversity. Additionally, affirmative action was not designed for specific communities. It’s for all people. Here’s a trivia question: What single group has benefited the most from affirmative action? (The answer appears at the end of this letter.)
You whined that your agency doesn’t get any bonus points. Mr. Gómez, you don’t deserve any bonus points — and, more importantly, you don’t need any! You admitted that Hill | Holliday provides access to tremendous research and disciplines you never had before. What the hell else do you require?
You also whined that you’re “just as Hispanic as the guy working at a Hispanic marketing shop owned by an individual Hispanic.” No argument there. At the same time, if you’ve been in multicultural marketing for over nine years, you know how the game is played. You should have realized the challenges you’d face by joining the minority practice of a non-minority agency. You’re enjoying the rewards, but griping about the little inconveniences.
Please don’t presume the seemingly cynical remarks seek to denigrate multicultural marketing. Yes, the system definitely demands improvement. But the proposals you might suggest probably will not bring positive progress.
You’re correct that the problems require starting to change mindsets. But the mindsets that need the most revision are not just between the ears of clients. The revolution must begin with the non-minorities who sign your paycheck.
Multicultural marketing is looked upon like something new, despite the fact that it’s been around for over 50 years. When jobs and budgets were plentiful, the non-minority shops allowed the segregated efforts to proceed without intervention. But as the consumer market evolved, and minority audiences gained importance (i.e., generated profits), the game shifted. And once non-minority bottom lines were disturbed, the response was not good.
Instead of revamping staffs to reflect the needs of consumers, the big companies simply bought their own minorities. The segregation lingers, even though everyone is under one virtual roof. And to add insult to injury, now the non-minority agencies beg for “equal” status and the same meager accommodations granted to smaller companies — despite already holding the superior resources, disciplines and positions.
You’re naïve to think minorities are not barred from ownership. Ditto if you imagine IPG is diverse in any sense of the word — except perhaps in the stock portfolios of its actual leaders. Need proof? Count the minorities employed at Hill | Holliday’s general agency. And don’t include the mailroom, secretarial and janitorial workers. The truth is, the majority of minority owners left non-minority environments to ultimately find major success.
Your editorial would have been more powerful and credible if co-signed by officers from all divisions. Why does the issue only affect you every day? Why isn’t everyone striving for a better way of doing business?
Don’t take this personally. You’ve earned respect for voicing your opinions. And believe it or not, you have it. But to be perfectly frank, your original tone smacked of condescension. Mr. Gómez, you’re attacking the wrong enemy — and inadvertently dissing the minority agencies that built your career.
Clients may appear misguided in their requests, but their true objective is to do the right thing. We just need to give them the right alternatives. Non-minority agencies have not offered excellent options yet.
Finally, clients wouldn’t be forced to delegate diversity objectives to minority partners if non-minority partners weren’t so damned monochromatic. In short, exclusivity sucks for our industry and society.
Please feel free to continue the dialogue. We should be allies in this cause.
P.S., Here’s the answer to the trivia question: White women have benefited the most from affirmative action. Think about that for a while.