The "D" Word
Diversity is a topic that seems to be at the front of the advertising agenda right now; You can't go to a single event or for a quick scroll through Linkedin without it being mentioned a handful of times. But how sincere and effective are these conversations really? I would like to take a break from my usual self deprecating humour and move onto agency deprecating humour...
Also, complaining aside, I love this industry and if everyone could still please hire me that would be great xoxo.
“Tell us about yourself.”
A frequent interview question, yet one that never fails to stump me. What is there to tell? I’ve played the piano since I was four. I talk when nervous. I work hard. I talk when comfortable. I’m ambitious. I talk when bored. I'm constantly trying to learn French. I talk. There has never been a time in my life when I’ve been asked about myself and the first thing that comes to mind is “Well David, I am a White British Female with the ability to show your company 'cares' about diversity”. That is not how I see myself, and that is not how I want others to see me. So, you’ll understand my shock when I found out that I wasn’t just a person trying to make her way in the big bad world, but a “Woman in the Creative Industry”. Considering I once accidentally superglued my own mouth shut, I’m not sure I can be responsible for representing an entire gender.
Nor, come to think of it, should I; I have absolutely no idea what it is like to be any other person, female or not, on this planet. Why am I suddenly a spokesperson for half the population?
A common theme right now is the blame game. Controversial as it may seem, I have absolutely no issue with a white, middle aged man, being my boss. He didn’t choose the colour of his skin, his gender, or the background in which he grew up in. None of us did. We are all a victim of circumstance. However, I do have an issue with that boss only caring about ticking the diversity boxes and moving on. What goes through their head? "Yip, there’s a picture of a young female, great. Yip someone in a hijab, that shows we care about different cultures, fantastic. Also, a person in a wheelchair, that's the inclusivity box checked. Throw in a few smiling people with varying skin tones. Tick, tick, tick. God, we are so diverse. Everyone pat yourself on the back. Now, go tell the world how we are so different to every other place out there because we care so much about diversity."
This industry is an amazing one; It is responsible for sending a Tunnocks Teacake to Space. For creating a song about dumb ways to die. For bringing a Nation to tears on an annual basis due to heart wrenching Christmas campaigns. It raised millions for Cancer Research, Give Blood, Samaritans and just about every other charity out there. It's a ridiculous industry, full of stupidity in the best way possible. But I can't help but feel disappointed every time I hear people say "we just don't have the time to be more diverse"or "We just don't have the budget to find more diverse people.". The way I see it, if it has the budget for Space, then it has the budget for genuine inclusivity.
I want to see the day where diversity schemes are rendered obsolete; for diversity to be an industry standard rather than a company selling point. And for everyone to be seen for their personalities and abilities, and nothing else. It’s time for agencies to take the time they spend ticking boxes and utilise it to make real change.
And also to send more confectionary goods to Space.