At The Big Tent, Bill Imada interviewed Sonya Gong Jent, VP-operations, multicultural-business-development group at State Farm. The discussion closed with the following question and answer:
“Corporate marketers should hire qualified executives, directors, managers and agents who reflect the diversity of the markets they are entering. This includes the Asian Pacific American market.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement and why?
Agree. The success of State Farm is dependent on leveraging our employees' diverse talents, background, cultures and experiences. Basically, without diversity of thought, a corporation is out of touch with consumers and setting itself up to fail.
The answer articulates a standard position among most major U.S. advertisers. Yet one can’t help but wonder why clients continue to pontificate on diversity while they’re in bed with advertising agencies where exclusivity runs rampant—along with a list of isms including racism, sexism and ageism. Sure, State Farm will seek to compensate by hiring Asian American shops and request that these places match the White agencies’ efforts with minimal yen. But in the end, the advertisers ignore the hard issues that completely contradict their own lofty aspirations. Clients like State Farm must take a closer look at their White partners. They’ll have to admit the typical adpeople are not good neighbors.