AdAge.com presented a fluff piece interviewing recruiters at headhunter firms and big advertising agencies, probing for insights and perspectives regarding the current job market. Not surprisingly, the +1,000-word report contained zero mentions of diversity. In fact, a few comments could actually be interpreted to mean shops are inclined to perpetuate the status quo:
“People are looking for mature, aggressive, in-command personalities. … I think when the economy suffers, they’re more concerned about stability and experienced management people who can command a presence automatically. It’s their safety net.”
Other comments hinted at new tactics, but probably weren’t directly addressing diversity:
“If we broaden our horizons, there are a lot of good people out there. We don’t put them in an old traditional role; we put them in roles that play to their strengths.”
If hearings and lawsuits move forward, someone must demand testimony from these recruiters. Granted, contrary to what the executives might think of themselves, most recruiters do not really influence hiring decisions. At big agencies, they tend to be screeners and/or supplemental human resources staffers. And lots of independent headhunters are failed pimps. The managers with hiring authority—creative directors and account directors—make the final calls.
Nonetheless, it’s imperative to discover what specific and deliberate efforts recruiters are promoting for diversity, especially in the big agencies. And more importantly, to hear how the people with hiring authority are supporting and complying with the initiatives.
Now that would be worthy of publication.