Thursday, August 09, 2018

14252: Back-To-School Ravings.

Campaign reported on the Brixton Finishing School, another diversity and inclusion initiative designed to train young people of color on the intricacies of working in adland. According to Campaign, the project allows students “who do not have the privilege of a university education” to experience “a free, 12-week course in digital, advertising and marketing skills” under the guidance of seasoned experts.

Okay, the folks behind such endeavors are undoubtedly caring and progressive, deserving respect and appreciation. At the same time, this common diversity and inclusion tactic inspires key questions.

First, why qualify students “who do not have the privilege of a university education” for this program? For starters, the word “privilege” leads to acknowledging White privilege, which is the primary advantage—waaaaay more important than a university education—that the majority of candidates utilize to get into the field. Besides, landing a creative position in an advertising agency doesn’t require a degree. And if agencies do mandate degrees, why not target minorities in universities?

Second, why presume people of color need extra schooling to succeed in advertising? There are plenty of examples of untrained and unqualified White youth entering the field via nepotism and next-generational cronyism. Why not create a 12-week course for all the Caucasian daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, neighbors and mistresses currently receiving free passes into adland?

Third, why not simply hire people of color and, if necessary, provide on-the-job mentoring and training? Isn’t that what healthy, ethical and professional companies do? These particular questions, incidentally, go to the heart of the true problem. That is, most minorities don’t need special training; rather, most leaders with hiring authority must undergo reprogramming. Specifically, hiring managers must be schooled to actually evaluate candidates on potential versus pigmentation. Skills versus skin tones. Talent versus tint.

Fourth, how will this program address the dearth of mid- and senior-level minorities? It will be difficult to retain Brixton Finishing School graduates if they find themselves alone in the field. The existing exclusive majority could use training in fostering inclusive workplaces too.

If minorities have to enroll for special training, similar prerequisites should be placed on hiring managers to ensure they have the cultural competence to do their jobs.

Industry-funded school challenges adland’s diversity problem

Digital guru Ally Owen has founded Brixton Finishing School, a free, 12-week course in digital, advertising and marketing skills for young people from BAME/unrepresented backgrounds.

By Georgina Brazier

Owen has recruited 21 students, aged 18 to 25, who do not have the privilege of a university education and given them the opportunity to learn from the employees of companies such as Google, WPP and McCann London.

The Institute of Practitioners of Advertising revealed a significant lack of diversity in the industry in its latest annual survey on the subject. This inspired Owen tackle the issue by setting up the school with industry backing.

Owen said: “We believe that while talent is distributed equally among the youth of London, opportunities are not.

“The SCA 2.0 [School of Communication Arts] and Brixton Finishing School partnership will create and widen runways into our industry to support our ambition for all talent, whatever their background, to have the seat they’ve earned at the table.

“For our GDP to thrive post-Brexit, we need to focus on building a meritocracy that ensures the best people are in the right jobs.”

The students come a variety of backgrounds and range from school leavers to those who have already experienced the world of work.

Brixton Finishing School student Tremayne Bailey said he was not aware of the creative industries until he undertook an apprenticeship at a charity.

He said: “We target adults but what we need to be doing is actually starting young — teaching young people who still aren’t being taught about the opportunities in the creative industries.”

The students will graduate on 5 October and many will then take up entry-level, digitally focused roles created for the school by Clear Channel, Kinetic, PrettyGreen, Brand Advance and McCann London.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agencies love training programs for POC. It gives them time so they can stall instead of actually hiring them. They tell them, "You just don't have enough ad school education. Let's address that first, and then we'll THINK about hiring you."

Meanwhile, white people without ad school education frequently waltz right in through the social connection door. Case in point, from the post entitled:

"Who here didn't go to ad school? How did you get in?"

“I got lucky, I knew people. My neighbor’s dad is the president of one of the major award shows in our industry.”

“My dad was the SVP of a hotel. Head honcho of an agency met with him to try and get his business. They talked about wives and kids over drinks. Long story short, ad guy didn't get the hotel but did score a new copywriter.”