Tuesday, February 24, 2009
6481: Life’s Not Fair—At A Diversity Job Fair.
Job Fair Gone Bad
Why the Ad Industry Still Has a Long Way to Go in Being Truly Diverse
By Mansi Trivedi
Diversity. I have always struggled with embracing this term because it is very often used too loosely and used to fulfill a need. “We are an equal-opportunity company.” No, you are not. You favor cupcakes over capabilities. You pamper already bloated egos. You love the self-promoters.
So don’t talk about diversity and look toward African-Americans or Asians. Talk about diversity like it is a great thing and like it means you’d be getting cultural galore from people who have actually lived it.
The Advertising Industry Diversity Job Fair and Leadership Conference did everything they shouldn’t have. The panelists were smart and came from “diverse” backgrounds, but recommended having a blog, using Twitter and avoiding sending friend requests to random people on Facebook. And unfortunately, this was my biggest and only takeaway. And I yawned.
Desperation our only weapon
After the long panel discussion ended, the gray-suited advertising aspirants flocked toward the booths. I stood in line for half an hour only to be told by an agency to apply online. The agency representative could not pronounce my name, and did not even try to. She looked at my papers and the other people around while I talked to her about New York weather and the industry. “Oh, we get so many of these, times have changed now, so apply online,” she said. I walked over to another long line of unfriendly applicants. I smiled and tried to strike a conversation on the current market scenario with one woman and she just smirked and looked away. While I queued to talk to another agency, the girl behind me tried to memorize my resume by leaning forward to peek at it. I offered her a copy and she made a face.
The mild discomfort had begun and it was only getting worse. Hundreds of graduates hunting for their paradise, with desperation as their weapons. I walked out with another experience of a job fair gone bad because it wasn’t about diversity or talent. Having panelists of color talking about advertising did not mean this industry was forward-thinking or culturally rich. Sadly, they’re all in denial and still print “diversity” as an accreditation.
Oh, advertising industry, you have a long way to go.
Mansi Trivedi is a graduate of VCU Brandcenter. She formerly was a strategic planner at Campbell-Ewald, Detroit.