Brands Are Starting To Demand Agency Diversity
Workforce diversity is something just about every US company claims to be improving, but it’s not as common to see a specific plan or tangible results. That’s especially true in the agency industry, which derived a boys club mentality all the way back in the Mad Men era of the 1960s. Brands like Diageo are aware of this, and are increasingly asking their agency partners to walk the walk by showing their plan for workplace diversification as a criteria for winning their business.
You may think that sounds a little strange. Why does a client have the right to demand increased representation of women and minorities at their agencies since they are in fact different companies? The justification is the makeup of an agency staff has a direct influence on the creative produced for its clients. It’s been proven that mostly white male staffs are more likely to use white male characters (especially leads), and contain stereotypically insensitive story lines. It’s usually not an intentional effort by creative teams to downplay minority groups. Instead it’s the manifestation of a subconscious tendency to produce work that looks and sounds like the people doing the work. There’s actually a psychological term for this call “mirrortocracy”, and Madison avenue has been suffering from it for years.
So will clients’ demands for proof of diversification change and industry and the creative work it produces? It’s hard to say for sure. But I think we can all agree the more attention brands shine on this issue the more agencies will start taking diversification seriously . . . for the sake of their business.