Thursday, February 22, 2007

Essay 1743

Random, semi-coherent thoughts regarding the Advertising Age story presented in Essay 1741 and the responding letters in Essay 1742…

Gee, Wallace S. Snyder seems a tad oversensitive. A closer read of the Advertising Age article shows a pretty fair analysis of the situation. Snyder’s been in the business long enough to understand how headlines and copy work to draw attention. Chill out, dawg.

All minority internship programs deserve respect and appreciation just for trying. At the same time, an honest inspection of the efforts seems reasonable — and even imperative.

If the AAF initiative is truly successful, Snyder should have stepped forward to display the amazing results when things got really hot during Advertising Week 2006. Or perhaps the survey revealed bugs that have always existed in the 10-year-old MPMS program.

The 4A’s runs its Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP). Senior Vice President Don Richards — who leads of the organization’s Agency Diversity Programs — once bragged, “We have the premier diversity internship program in the industry.” Um, didn’t realize it was a competition.

Yet while both of these esteemed groups claim to cultivate and operate so successfully, there’s still a ridiculous dearth of diversity on Madison Avenue. Whassup wit dat?

Could it be that minority internship programs — while vital and invaluable — only address a small, segregated piece of the puzzle?

You can recruit the able bodies, but if there’s an inadequate and invisible support system, well, MPMS and MAIP spell MESS.

Maybe it’s not the minority students who lack the qualifications and potential to make things happen — rather, it’s the majority adpeople. The culturally clueless are probably incapable of professionally mentoring and creating inclusive environments. However, for true integration to occur, these folks must evolve and progress too. It’s unreasonable, unmanageable and unfair to expect MPMS and MAIP alumni to shoulder all the responsibilities. Remember, there aren’t enough of them to begin with. Just ask the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

It’s time to supplement minority training programs with majority training programs.

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