Monday, October 31, 2016

13413: Forcing Diversity Is Cool.

Campaign published a piece asking, “Should brands push agencies to meet diversity targets for staff?” Um, the question should be, “Why aren’t brands pushing White advertising agencies to meet diversity targets for staff?” After all, agencies have demonstrated quite clearly that they are incapable of even defining diversity targets. Hell, given the popular smokescreen of promoting White women under the guise of inclusion, it appears that agencies can’t even define diversity.

Appropriately enough, one White woman—23red CEO and Founding Partner Jane Asscher—expressed opposition to clients mandating change. Asscher opined, “In my view, brands should focus on getting their own houses in order.”

Ironically, 23red boasts being an agency for change:

23red is the creative agency that changes behaviour for the better. We know that getting people to do something (and do it now) is the most powerful way to change how they feel or think about a brand or a cause. We call it Do.Feel.Think.™

We’re experts in developing and crafting activation campaigns that start with a do and creating new brands that are action orientated.

Our Consult23 team develop new strategies that focus on an immediate action and long term change and our Content23 team produce engaging content that get things done.

Wow, Asscher and her crew appear to be the perfect people to help ignite diversity in the advertising industry. However, a peek at the agency’s leadership shows Asscher definitely needs to focus on getting her own house in order. Oh, and 23red’s work sucks too, so maybe they’re not the perfect people to tackle the global diversity dilemma.

But before telling Asscher to shut up, MultiCultClassics will offer her—and other ignorant assholes like Asscher—a few counterpoints to consider.

First, it’s true that most clients might have diversity challenges too, creating a “White people who live in glass houses…” scenario. At the same time, hypocrisy is already prevalent in the overall situation. For example, most White advertising agencies (including 23red) express a commitment to diversity while exhibiting an aversion to the cause. Hence, does it really matter who is being the bigger hypocrite?

Second, clients have public positions and identities to maintain. If a brand displays discrimination, it will result in public backlash and PR nightmares. White advertising agencies exist in relative anonymity, so they might not be as concerned with doing the right thing. However, brands must scrutinize their partners. It is in their own best interests—as well as the best interests of society—to require that partners are good citizens too.

Third, White advertising agencies have failed with self-regulation in regards to diversity. Legal, political and governmental intervention has been ignored. Ditto polite and professional requests. People like Asscher simply cannot be trusted to change on their own volition. It’s high time for clients to step in and force compliance. Indeed, it’s long overdue.

Finally, in case Asscher pulls the clichéd excuses that she doesn’t want to compromise on hiring and fears diminishing her staff by offering positions to people not based on merit, let’s recognize again the awfulness of 23red’s sucky work. Any qualified person could handle doing what Asscher does. In fact, fresh perspectives might actually improve the current shit.

Okay, now MultiCultClassics will tell Asscher to shut up.

Should brands push agencies to meet diversity targets for staff?

Clients could force well-intentioned agencies to make good on their word, Matthew Chapman writes.

By Matthew Chapman

Agencies like to talk the talk about improving diversity within the ad industry, but too many have been slow to walk the walk.

If anything, the industry’s reputation around diversity has worsened this year following the sexism row that cost Kevin Roberts his job at Saatchi & Saatchi and the resignation of J Walter Thompson’s Gustavo Martinez over allegations of racist and sexist comments.

Airbnb chief marketing officer Jonathan Mildenhall hit out at how “white” Cannes was this year, lamenting how he was the only black person at the dinners he attended. It is such clients who could force agencies’ hands when it comes to addressing a lack of diversity.

Verizon, HP and General Mills have already called for better representation, specifically of women and ethnic minorities, at their agencies.

There is a similar trend in the UK. Suki Thompson, chief executive of Oystercatchers, says her intermediary has started to include diversity information in agency profiles “so that marketers have better in-formation to inform their decisions”. She says: “It couldn’t be any clearer to our industry — it’s time to proactively find the new guard of talent from all walks of life to work within marketing.”

The IPA wants 40% of senior agency positions to be filled by women, and 15% by people from non-white backgrounds, by 2020. The body recommends members take diversity lessons from other industries.

Media owners, particularly in TV, are leading the way. Channel 4 has launched its 360° Diversity Charter, which requires 20% of staff to be from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background by 2020.

Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4, says: “The creative and commercial benefits of a diverse workforce are indisputable and we encourage our partners to head for the promised land too.”

The BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have also drawn up the Diamond diversity reporting guidelines, which require production companies to disclose diversity information about their staff.

The challenge is to throw the recruitment net wider as people from ethnically diverse and less well-off backgrounds might not even be applying for jobs.

Lots of agencies are being proactive. Omnicom Media Group, whose clients include Channel 4, has set up OMG Ethnic, a multicultural consultancy.

Jane Asscher, chief executive of independent agency 23red, says brands should make sure they get their own house in order before criticising others.

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