AgencySpy posted on the General Mills account review—which features diversity requirements for the competing White advertising agencies—with a headline reading, “General Mills Insists That Its Future Agencies Meet Specific Diversity Quotas.” The tone of the headline and the integration of the term “quotas” was enough to inspire over 75 comments to date. It’s a collection of cultural cluelessness, vividly exposing the ignorance killing inclusion.
Given the drive for diversity that has accelerated over the past decade, White advertising agencies should be capable of meeting General Mills’ mandates—and the agencies should be fully aware of the makeup of their staffs. Indeed, the holding companies are keeping records, although there is a continued refusal to publicly disclose the data. Most White advertising agencies have even made open commitments to diversity and inclusion. The figures sought by the cereal maker do not exceed the goals of the average White shop. So what’s the problem with General Mills’ request?
General Mills isn’t the only client to ask to see the diversity of its advertising agencies. Multicultural shops are routinely scrutinized like this. Clients judge these crumb-collecting companies by their “authenticity”—which is a polite way to say the staffs at such agencies are expected to be majority minority. Plus, minority ownership is an important expectation of the scheme. These shops are typically required to show their diversity supplier figures too, and are often mandated to use minority vendors. And of course, the work produced by multicultural shops must be blatantly targeted, often to the point of being stereotypical.
In short, it’s about time clients scrutinized the diversity of all its partners. And it’s well beyond time for White advertising agencies to deliver on diversity. Why would anyone want to team up with a company that doesn’t keep its promises?