Let’s discuss the most controversial topic in our industry right now. Diversity.
Undoubtedly, there are issues surrounding diversity, or the lack thereof. Everyone’s talking about it, but no one seems to be doing anything about it. Let me explain.
I recently attended an event ‘Do you need a penis to be a creative director?‘. It featured an all (but one) female lineup of speakers talking diversity and gender equality. Great right!? Wrong. Instead of talking about diversity, and the issues in our industry, let’s just get on with things. After all, actions speak louder than words.
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I’m the former communications director for a global event in social media. Last year we hosted a panel with 5 of the best minds in the industry – all female. Instead of speaking on a topic their male colleagues might have discussed, they talked about women. What a waste of their talent.
Now this brings me onto diverse hiring… don’t hire people based on diversity. Hire the right people.
Pick the people who fit the job role and who fit within the team. Not those who just fit the diversity checklist. My former department at a global agency had at it’s core, a programme designed to introduce diverse talent into the organisation, and wider industry. We didn’t look for black people because there were too many white people, or women because there were far too many guys. We looked at people’s working behaviours, their skills, personalities.
The definition of ‘diverse’ is “showing a great deal of variety”. It’s not as shallow as race, sex or religion, but about providing different skills, personalities and traits. Our small team of five was by far the most diverse I’ve ever seen. 2 females, 3 males… all white.
Bringing real diverse talent into our industry, is fundamental for it’s success. I’m an example of this programme. I spent my first 18 years in a council estate before moving to London 2 years ago for university. I joined one of the largest agencies as an intern before being offered a great position within another agency.
And sure… university isn’t for everyone. I tried my hardest for 2 years, and outgrew it’s constraints. If we can identify diamonds in the rough when they are 15 or 16 years old, we could diversify our industry and make it much more innovative.
What’s your take on things?
Image credit: Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media (from Social Media Week London 2015)