Industry Diversity: It’s More Than Skin Deep

Industry Diversity: It’s More Than Skin Deep

In his final column for the year, B&T’s favourite industry maverick and troublemaker, Robert Strohfeldt, turns his opinion pen to adland’s topic du jour – diversity. And, he says, it’s as much about the thinking as it is who you employ at your agency…

There is an old (and wise) statement most people would have heard – “Steer clear of discussing politics, sex and religion at dinner parties”.

But if you want to work in advertising, then it is a mandatory to be able to understand and communicate with the diverse range of people who make up the Australian community. (All but the extreme nutters at either end of this spectrum that is). To be an effective communicator, a person must be open to and aware of the socio-political issues swirling around. (So, politics, sex and religion are nearly always on, or lurking near, the agenda)

A major topic of discussion is diversity in the work place. Rather than the nefarious reasons given by social warriors for change, the logic behind the push for greater diversity cannot be faulted.

A homogeneous work place, particularly in creative businesses, is not reflective of the diversity within the community to whom we are speaking, but more concerning is the lack of diversity of ideas that will come out of a group of people who all share the same attitudes and beliefs. AI is a much greater threat is these circumstances. As an example, machine learning may be able to write a rap song. (Just about anyone could. Wonderfully egalitarian, rap requires no musical talent or training.). I digress. The “machine” after being exposed to endless amounts of rap, will be able to write a wrap song, but it won’t produce songs that people such as Bowie or Prince wrote.

I have watched the advertising industry become less and less diverse over the past 10 to 15 years. To many in the business, diversity is about gender, skin colour and sexuality. A total load of bullshit – diversity comes from the mind, not physical attributes.

A group of people who differ in ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, may all have very similar attitudes and philosophies and hence do not constitute a diverse group.

The advertising business is far more politicised than it ever was in the past. Objectivity, i.e. what does the target want or feel, is replaced with how they should want or feel, according the loud minority who seem to be setting community standards through social media. (Though not the all – powerful advertising medium it was originally made out to be, there is no doubting its power for propaganda).

The most glaring example is the Antifa movement. Supposedly aimed at “fighting fascism”, it has adopted the basics of fascism to pursue its crusade.

One of many definitions of Fascist (All very similar, only varying in semantics):

A fascist is a follower of a political philosophy characterized by authoritarian views and a strong central government — and no tolerance for opposing opinions. Fascist traces to the Italian word fascio, meaning “group, bundle.” Under fascist rule, the emphasis is on the group — the nation — with few individual rights.

The above describes the Antifa movement to a tee. If it wasn’t so serious, it would be hilarious.  A bunch of super serious nerdy, left wing drop outs chanting their inane rhyming lines, protesting their own philosophy. And we think Pauline Hanson looks silly. She is an intellectual giant compared to these idiots.

Fascism applies to extremes of the right and the left with one common identifying feature – to strangle freedom of speech, the cornerstone of democracy.

Antifa don’t believe in democracy. Though apart from being anti-democratic, it is hard to discern what their core beliefs are, as it is a lose affiliation of disparate groups.   It has been the same through history. Hitler was without doubt a despot of the highest order. But so was Starlin. The most common criticism, usually chanted in inane little ditties, is that someone is a Nazi. (But what about someone who follows the extreme left? Scorecard: Hitler 7 million VS Starlin 57 million)

If they were only against genuine Nazis, I doubt anyone decent person would take issue with them. But they turn on any person or group who doesn’t think the same way they do. (Intolerance, the basis of human conflict since the year dot).

Australia has a rich history of diversity – arguably the most multi-cultural of all developed societies. (And underdeveloped, where ethnic or religious differences frequently lead to explosive violence).The current drive to diversity is leading more to division than harmony.

Looking objectively at the results of the SSM survey, some 40 per cent of the people said no.  So, in a room of 10 people, six will be for and four against. That is hardly an overwhelming majority and if not handled delicately and with respect for everybody’s beliefs, could lead to conflict.

Adding irony to the results is that in the communities for which the left supposedly has great empathy, the No vote was as high as 80%. I was reading a report on this and one of the Green’s tweeted “Highlighting such figures just provides ammunition to the bigots”. So, the truth should not be reported or discussed? Sounds very “Fascist” to me.

One of the many changes to the ad industry over the past 20 or so years has been the reduction in the diversity of the people. Some of the best creatives I have worked with did not go to University and came from under-privileged families. It was a melting pot of backgrounds/experiences, attitudes and philosophies, all melded together by respect.

Advertising was not perfect on the issue of gender equality, though it was nowhere near as male dominated as many other industries. Though gender equality in opportunities and pay was not so much an industry issue as a broad societal one.

More and more women are looking to have careers now, so it is only natural the percentage participation across all levels will increase.

Sexuality? Bloody hell, I don’t know anyone who did not have gay staff and friends. It was a non-event. As in, no one gave a toss about sexual preference, the measure of a person’s worth was in the quality of their work. Though I must admit, it would be difficult for a drag queen to find management roles.

But now, more and more people working in the industry think very much the same. As mentioned, diversity of thought is the pay- off for diversity in the work place. We are turning into an industry of inner city elites. (Not all, but a far cry from 20 years ago). The industry has acted like sheep on so many issues – the Magpie Generation, as Mark Ritson once said. If it is bright, shinny, new and “digital”, they must have it. Objective thinking has been replaced by “group think” and often work is done that will appeal to their peers, rather than the target market.

I wonder how some would go about advertising to the 4 out of 10 people who voted no?

“Even Bigoted Bastards Love Cadbury”

Or maybe

“Carlton Draught. Refresh the Homophobe in You”.

Workplace diversity should be about equal opportunity (and pay) for all, irrespective of gender, ethnicity and sexual preference.

Many similarities have been drawn between sport and business. The most successful sporting teams (male and female) have an unwritten code of “no dickheads”. Talent alone is not enough. Just as important is the impact that person will have on the team.

Those who would like to see quotas brought in to ensure that workplace identity is a replica of society will do more harm than good. The odds of a head or a tail, when tossing a coin, are 50/50. But if you tossed a coin 10 times, rarely would the result be 5 heads and 5 tails. The same principal of statistical variance applies to people. Quotas result in tokenism and eventually resentment as people who are less talented, qualified or both are appointed to positions, simply to ensure “diversity”.

People should have equal opportunity and access. But how a person progresses along their chosen path should be based on how they perform, not some crazy quota system to ensure the workplace is microcosm of society at large.

I dread the day when I have to explain to a client the reason for the terrible art direction – “As you know we have quotas to fill and the art director on your business is the best one- legged, gay Callithumpian art director money can buy!”

Visit www.RealityCheckOnline.com.au for a reality check on the big issues facing the advertising industry.




Please login with linkedin to comment

Robert Strohfeldt

Latest News

Image lead story Australian Ethical Launches Evocative New Brand Campaign, Via Paper Moosse
  • Campaigns

Australian Ethical Launches Evocative New Brand Campaign, Via Paper Moosse

Ethical investment firm, Australian Ethical has launched an evocative new brand campaign via B Corp agency Paper Moose. The campaign showcases the positive influence that ethical investing can have on the health of people, planet and animals. The campaign will roll out over BVOD, OOH, digital and social. Brad Bennett, head of client success, Paper Moose: […]

CPR First Aid Study: Weight Loss & Healthy Eating Among Most Googled Personal Goals
  • Marketing

CPR First Aid Study: Weight Loss & Healthy Eating Among Most Googled Personal Goals

According to a new study from CPR First Aid has revealed that Aussies’ most Googled personal goal in the summer is losing weight, new research has found. Their next most researched summer objective is healthy eating, followed by drinking more water. This time of the year, Aussies want to stop snoring and quit smoking more […]

Leading Aussie Creators Alright Hey & Starr McGowan To Host Annual AiMCO Awards, With Platinum Sponsor TikTok For Business
  • Media

Leading Aussie Creators Alright Hey & Starr McGowan To Host Annual AiMCO Awards, With Platinum Sponsor TikTok For Business

The Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCO) has today announced popular Australian content creators, Alright Hey and Starr McGowan, will host the 2023 AiMCO Awards, with platinum sponsor TikTok for Business. Lead image: Alright Hey & Starr McGowan The annual awards, which are set to be held at Sydney’s Doltone House on February 29, recognise the […]

NRL Heartthrob Reece Walsh Stars In New Musashi In New Campaign By JOY
  • Campaigns

NRL Heartthrob Reece Walsh Stars In New Musashi In New Campaign By JOY

A new campaign from Australia’s number one sports nutrition brand, Musashi, captures the emotion, intensity and self-reflection on GAME DAY, featuring some of the country’s most exciting, emerging sporting talent. Devised by leading independent agency JOY, the campaign creative is inspired by the power of the moment just before an athlete steps out onto the […]

Nutella & Pizza Hut Partner To Launch Huge New Menu Item Via WiredCo.
  • Campaigns

Nutella & Pizza Hut Partner To Launch Huge New Menu Item Via WiredCo.

Picture this. A freshly baked, deliciously gooey and irresistible 8-in-1 giant vanilla cookie, served warm. Now imagine a delectable drizzle of hazelnut spread, NUTELLA on top. No further imagination is needed as Pizza Hut has launched its brand-new Loaded Cookie with NUTELLA this Thursday, 22nd February, set to become an Aussie favourite in their 270 […]

Social Soup Nabs Jess Hope From EssencceMediacom
  • Marketing

Social Soup Nabs Jess Hope From EssencceMediacom

Social Soup has announced the appointment of Jess Hope to the newly created role of head of growth and Innovation, effective immediately. Lead image: L-R – Sharyn Smith and Jess Hope With over 15 years of social, creative and content marketing experience, Jess has spent her career immersed in entertainment, music, publishing and advertising. Having […]

Spotlight On Sponsors: Canberra Raiders Have Rocky Relationship With Finals Footy But Maintain The Gold Standard When It Comes To Partnerships
  • Marketing

Spotlight On Sponsors: Canberra Raiders Have Rocky Relationship With Finals Footy But Maintain The Gold Standard When It Comes To Partnerships

The Canberra Raiders just snuck into the top eight last year, appearing in the finals for the first time since 2014. But while the Raider’s relationship with finals footy is rocky at best, their sponsorship is anything but. Welcome back to B&T’s Spotlight on Sponsors series, where we unpack all the major sponsorship news from each NRL and AFL team in […]

Twilio: Customer Data Platforms Are “Critical Foundation” For AI-Driven Customer Insights
  • Technology

Twilio: Customer Data Platforms Are “Critical Foundation” For AI-Driven Customer Insights

Businesses are integrating customer data platforms with AI and analytics to personalise customer experiences and drive business success, according to a new report from Twilio Segment. Lead image: Kathryn Murphy, SVP of product and design, Twilio. The fifth annual Customer Data Platform Report, which reflects the findings of anonymised usage data from Twilio Segment’s more […]

Spotlight On Sponsors: Western Bulldogs Remain Focussed On Supporting Local Communities After Inconsistent 2023 Season
  • Marketing

Spotlight On Sponsors: Western Bulldogs Remain Focussed On Supporting Local Communities After Inconsistent 2023 Season

The Western Bulldogs remained in contention to take the top prize right through the 2023 season despite inconsistent results but ultimately missed out on the finals series for the first time since 2018. Welcome back to B&T’s Spotlight on Sponsors series, where we unpack all the major sponsorship news from each NRL and AFL team in the lead-up to the […]

Guardian Nabs Charlotte Byrne From Schwartz Media
  • Media

Guardian Nabs Charlotte Byrne From Schwartz Media

Guardian Australia has recruited a new partnerships manager, Charlotte Byrne, following a push for strategic content collaborations with major advertisers. Byrnes will join Guardian Australia as partnerships manager from Schwartz Media team, where she was previously responsible for leading and developing the sales team across direct, agency and media partnerships. Guardian Australia is a free […]

Word of Mouth Digital Welcomes Six New Brands To Its Growing Portfolio
  • Marketing

Word of Mouth Digital Welcomes Six New Brands To Its Growing Portfolio

Word of Mouth Digital, a Sydney-based full-service digital marketing agency, has announced the addition of six diverse brands to its expanding client portfolio. Lead image: Alex and Tash Williams These new partnerships span various sectors, including pet care, cognitive health, home construction, wellness, and retail, showcasing the agency’s commitment to fostering growth through strategic collaboration […]

Carat Perth’s Michelle Testa To Chair Oasis Committee In Support Of Salvos
  • Advertising

Carat Perth’s Michelle Testa To Chair Oasis Committee In Support Of Salvos

Carat Perth client partner Michelle Testa (pictured) has been named as the new chair of the Oasis Committee with a remit to deliver continued financial support to The Salvation Army on behalf of the WA Advertising and Communications industry. Testa, who takes on the chair has been a member of the Oasis Committee for several […]

Gen AI Is Making Small Business Marketing A Breeze
  • Marketing

Gen AI Is Making Small Business Marketing A Breeze

In this guest post, Sarah Tilleke, Adobe ANZ Solutions Consultant (pictured below), says now’s a great time to take control of your marketing processes thanks to the rise of generative AI. Small business owners would agree that while a standout marketing campaign is essential if you want to grow your business, far too often the […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine