Campaign published a sponsored piece from Monster featuring a White person roundtable on diversity—although it was mostly inclusiveness via promoting White women. “It’s not just women,” insisted Lindsey Clay. “Colour, race, gender, social background and age are all under-represented.” Of course, Clay doesn’t give a shit about colour, race, social background and age, except when applied to White women. The story was titled, “Failing the Future,” but anyone who has seriously considered diversity knows our industry is failing the present, and has failed the past since the birth of adland. Most pathetic is the photo above depicting the roundtable participants. Leave it to White folks to hold a discussion on diversity that excluded people of colour.
Failing the Future
The next-gen crisis: are we failing to discover, develop and retain the diversity of talent required to be the next marketing leaders?
So hot is the issue of talent development and diversity that Campaign had no trouble luring business leaders out of the Cannes sunshine and into a private dining room at the Carlton Hotel to chew it over during the recent Lions Festival of Creativity.
“The fear is that we are heading towards a homogenous and dwindling talent pool of people equipped to lead in an increasingly global and digital world,” said Andrew Warner of Monster, Campaign’s partner in the debate.
The digital economy was expected to democratise career structures, but, in fact, he suggested, flatter organisations provide less scaffolding for progression. And a high percentage of women fall out of tech careers in their thirties.
“It’s not just women. Colour, race, gender, social background and age are all under-represented,” added Thinkbox’s Lindsey Clay. “Differences make output strong,” said HMG’s Darren Goldie. “I always recruit for attitude and then develop talent.”
Digitalisation brings challenges to more traditional businesses too. “I have people with marketing degrees who are not equipped,” said HSBC’s Amanda Rendle. Agencies also face a huge challenge, said Maxus’s Richard Stokes. “We bring people in to do specific tech jobs but how are they going to develop into the leaders of tomorrow?”
Some businesses, such as Expedia, aim to transfer skills like search optimisation via lunchtime masterclasses. “It’s OK not to know,” said Andrew Cocker. “And it’s OK to learn.” The skill set required these days is incredibly demanding,” said Stephen Maher. “You’ve got to be good at tech and data, as well as conceptual and creative and also a brilliant leader and presenter.”
If such talent is to be attracted to marketing as a career, “we all have a responsibility for it not to be that small thing sat in the corner,” said Clear Channel’s Sarah Speake.”Marketing has lost some of its sizzle,” admitted Chesters. “It’s cobblers’ children going barefoot. How appalling we are at marketing ourselves. “We need to be more intelligent and flexible and interesting in the people that we recruit and where we find them.”