Peter Kirk Calls On Brands To ‘Close the Gap’

Peter Kirk Calls On Brands To ‘Close the Gap’
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine
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In this opinion piece, head of creative at Pluto Media Peter Kirk calls on CMOs and brands to ‘close the gap’ by encouraging their agencies to better represent Indigenous Australians…

Sometimes I come home shattered, I stand in the middle of the room and I get so frustrated, the moment passes and I know tomorrow I have to get up and do it all over again.

I know this seems dramatic but I want to explain how at times I feel when talking to agency-land regarding the importance of hiring and working with Indigenous creatives.

I’m Indigenous and creative, and love the ad game. I love coming up with ideas and solutions to fix problems. However, I grew up in an Indigenous environment. My home life was full of laughter, music, swearing and everyone speaking their mind, which goes against the traditional agency type.

It’s been a tough journey to try and find that nice balance between knowing when not to speak and understanding the social norms of different agency environments. In an ideal world, we shouldn’t have to, but alas, we have a bit of a way to go.

We all know the stats regarding the lack of diversity in adland and as an Indigenous person, I strongly believe everyone will benefit.

Yet when I meet with people in the advertising industry, whilst I get a genuine feeling of empathy, once I start talking about plans, programs and strategies that cost money to roll out ways to connect with the Indigenous community, I never hear back from them again.

To my knowledge, only three agencies have developed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

This is where I would love to see brands and people with the authority to make real change get involved.

I would like to develop an industry-wide ‘Closing the Gap’ initiative. Let’s have two or three per cent of Indigenous representation in all agencies by 2022.

What a goal to aim for! And something we can all be proud of.

This is currently in place in other industries. It’s being managed by government departments and other large companies. For more info, visit: https://www.pmc.gov.au/indigenous-affairs/closing-gap.

I think it’s time for our industry to create one. I think it’s time for brands to start making agencies more accountable for their lack of diversity, particularly with the lack of our own Indigenous people working in agencies. After all, we have at our disposal one of the oldest storytelling nations at our disposal.

How do we do this?

It’s actually easier and more straightforward than most people think. When sending out your RFPs, ask the agency the following questions:

  • Do you have a RAP?
  • What is your Indigenous headcount?
  • What programs/plans does your agency have in place to connect with the Indigenous community?
  • Can you showcase your hiring practices to work with more Indigenous staff?
  • What Indigenous communities have you connected with and undertaken programs?

I would simply develop a point scoring system around all this and when agencies fill out their RFPs, they must fill these out as well. There are a lot more and I would certainly love the opportunity to work with any brand/CMO to develop a measurable and compliant Industry ‘Closing the Gap Initiative’ – something that encourages agency land to hire my mob and embrace Indigenous culture.

We have made massive inroads with diversity and getting a spot for women at the table, and quite rightly so, yet there is another group of people that have been overlooked in the communications industry and isn’t it time we accepted everyone and embraced all cultures?

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