The majority of media and marketing executives agreed that quotas are not the best way to achieve greater diversity in the industry, B&T’s Changing the Ratio event held last week has discovered.
Three-quarters of the audience voted against quotas instead calling for wider cultural reform in the industry through policies, an overhaul of recruitment processes and organisational restructures.
The vote followed a passionate debate on the topic where two panels of industry veterans took part in a live debate, pleading their case for and against quotas.
“Creating the type of organisational cultural change that enables genuine diversity and inclusion is a long and complex process that requires a whole range of interventions,” said Diversity Council Australia CEO Lisa Annese.
“The advertising and marketing industry have a long way to go. John Draper and his ilk have not yet left the building, but you don’t create diversity overnight by imposing a quota. You need to get the basics right on your true journey to diversity and inclusion.”
AFL head of media Sarah Wyse, who also runs a business that promotes women in the workplace, echoed Annese’s sentiment, adding that 70 per cnet of diversity strategies fail within organisations because of quotas.
“Quotas drive short-term change, but they don’t drive long-term change because there’s no cultural education or behavioural shift in how people are thinking about making change in the business.
“If you lead with quotas you are always in the meritocracy debate… People are hired because they are a certain background or ticking a certain box. Then people start feeling like they aren’t being valued from their own experience or what they can deliver to a business.”
While Annese and her team, which also included Coffee Cocoa Gunpowder founder Ant Melder and AFL head of media Sarah Wyse, agreed that targets, decisive interventions and a focus on culture was the way forward, others disagreed.
Women’s Agenda publisher Tarla Lambert said the system has been stacked against women for decades and nothing thus far has worked to correct the wrongs, which is why quotas are needed to make radical change.
“If we want to see real, radical change in our lifetime, it’s time to implement quotas in media and advertising. It’s time to give women and every minority group the recognition they deserve and send a clear message that the boy’s club of yesteryear is done and dusted,” she said.
“No, it’s not glamourous. It’s not where we wished we’d be, but we dug ourselves a bloody big hole and now we need to dig ourselves out of it.”
Despite a strong debate from Lambert and her team, including IBM marketing chair Mari Kauppinen and SCA strategic recruitment management Arthur Georgiou, when it comes to quotes, the industry says no.