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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > ask jancy >  Lack of minorities: when will the ad biz get serious?

Lack of minorities: when will the ad biz get serious?

I’ve been in the industry for 13 years as a copywriter. I’ve worked on national stuff, regional stuff, won awards.
My real concern is the continued lack of genuine diversity at all levels. I want to work with general market agencies to bring more Black, Hispanic and Asian creatives, account execs, media and production folks into the business.
Any thoughts? I’ve done the whole “let’s have some minority intersnhip programs” but those are a joke to be perfectly honest. The industry really needs to get serious about this issue and soon.
Any advice?

intro Lack of minorities: when will the ad biz get serious?We can’t help but notice the lack of minorities in most agencies. Ours is an exception. Walk down the halls and see every color and hear every accent imaginable. And there are tons of women, too. For us it’s a meritocracy and we’re thrilled to hire talented ambitious people whether they’re black, brown or purple. It’s hard to find great people and we leap at the chance when we’re lucky enough to cross paths with them. As sensitive as we are to the industry’s poor record for hiring minorities, we’ve never hired someone because they’re a minority and never would. We hire the best person for the job. We wouldn’t endorse any program (like a minority internship program) that meant people got jobs based on minority status.

What’s the answer? We’re part of a group (women) that faces bias every day, so speaking first from our own experience, we know what it meant to have role models that demonstrated that comporting yourself with confidence and belief in yourself is fundamental. Seeking out a mentor can make a real difference. Taking no shit from anyone based on gender is critical. The more you behave as if gender is irrelevant the more you’re treated that way.

When Nancy lived in a dangerous part of Washington D.C. she often walked many blocks home late at night (oh the partying days) and was later told how foolish that was. But she wasn’t afraid and later read about the fact that the people who show no fear in that circumstance are far less vulnerable to being attacked than people who exude fear. We think there’s a link here to how to behave among those who may oppress in the workplace. Confidence counts big time. Show you’re up for any challenge and don’t feel intimidated (even if acting is required) and you won’t be treated so much like you’re somehow weaker. Demand equal pay and you’re far likelier to get equal pay, once in the workforce. Women are less aggressive as a group when it comes to money matters.

Whether any of that can be applied to other groups that suffer bias, we can’t be sure. But that’s what two white women have to offer by way of advice. What would clearly help in broad strokes is more champions of minorities and mentors stepping forward to help create more opportunities. People looking for jobs should do their homework and first seek work at agencies that have better track records for hiring in a color blind and gender blind way—places that are run by the people just described.

We’ve seen women and minorities do better over time in our market (yes we are lucky to live in Canada). But progress is slow and injustice is maddening.

Wish we could wave a wand. Sorry we can’t offer the ultimate answers in this column.

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About Jancy

'Jancy' is Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, Co-Founders of Swim, a unique “creative leadership training lab for advertising creatives and marketers.” Prior to Swim, Jancy was globally renowned as the Co-Chief Creative Officers of Ogilvy & Mather Toronto, a position they held for thirteen of the twenty years they were a creative duo at the agency. Over the years they've racked up Cannes Lions, Clios, One Show pencils and CA credits, and have lead their shop to two Cannes Lions Grand Prix and a Grand Clio. They've judged CA, Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, the Clios and other prestigious award shows. Creativity named them two of the top 50 creative people of 2008. Known for their outspoken, no-bullshit style and a passion for mentoring juniors, they're ready to give you advice if you're ready to take it.

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