06/06/2022 - No Comments!

Equality, diversity, and The Bionic Man.

For a kid growing up in the 70s, The Six Million Dollar Man was essential viewing on a Saturday night.

With a packet of Rancheros cradled between my knees, slurping on cheap fizzy-pop, I was ready to join Steve Austin in taking on all-manner of baddies - even a Yeti!

The thing I really loved was the title sequence. The montage bit where Austin crashes his spaceship and undergoes government-sanctioned surgery. His smashed and broken body parts were replaced with machine parts, making him better than he ever was before. Then rebuilt, he would tear around a test track at 60mph.

It was television gold!

But, in every episode when old Stevie-boy needed to get out of some sticky situation super pronto, it was never at 60mph. Instead, a slow-motion effect conveyed his incredible fleet of foot (a visual oxymoron if ever there was), accompanied by a synthesised bionic mnemonic. That early promise of superhuman speed just never happened.

For me, this oddly mirrors the issue of equality, diversity and inclusion the ad industry currently faces. The promise of ramping up industry-wide changes isn't happening nearly fast enough. Boardrooms are still occupied mainly by middle-aged white men, and on the shop floor, it's not much better. In fact, data from Major Players shows that a white man earns £10,000 more a year on average than a white woman and £20,000 more than a Black woman in the same role.

Don't get me wrong, brilliant things are happening. Many high profile industry leaders are weighing in, championing greater equality, diversity and inclusion, inside and outside the workplace. Now, some agencies anonymise applicants' CVs to prevent unconscious bias when recruiting. Others actively recruit people from disadvantaged backgrounds. A few even have 70% females working for them with a 50/50 gender split on the senior team.

Super positive stuff. Stuff we regularly applaud, support and share, especially within the Linkedin community. But, I can't help thinking, if there's such a groundswell of support across our industry, why does the pace of change still feel sluggish, like Austin running through treacle?

The world's leading data, insights and consulting company, Kantar, wrote recently that inclusion and diversity in advertising are no longer optional; they are imperative. So shouldn't the same be said about the industry producing the ads? After all, we're the ones that are supposed to mirror society and have the ability to shape it.

There are plenty of leaders in our industry with the power to bring about real, meaningful change right now. The kind of change that's been talked about for years, and years, and years. And the sooner they do, the sooner it will be the new norm.

Then stories of a woman becoming the first creative chair of a UK marketing agency won't be so unusual. The industry's media won't feel the need to highlight her gender, her talent, character, and commitment will be the focus that, ironically, make her the right man for the job. And dedicated diversity hubs within companies, offering best-practice guidance and training for their marketing teams, will be redundant, simply because they will already be hardwired into the culture of the place. 

We have the capability to make our industry better than it was before. Better and stronger. If we just pull our fingers out and move faster.

Published by: Neil1969 in Uncategorized

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