Advertising Age declared, “Advertising Is Still a Boys’ Club”—via a painfully long report that the stereotypical adman would have little patience to peruse.
The piece opened with the following stories:
Suzanne and a colleague are hard at work on a new-business pitch for a toy targeted to little girls. The day before the big meeting, the duo’s male creative director points to Suzanne and says, “You’re going to the meeting because we need more women in the room.”
On the morning of an important pitch, one of two men in the client service department approaches Leah and asks her to take the coffee orders since no one on his team is in yet. She looks around and notices that she is the only female in the office. Begrudgingly, Leah begins to take orders until her female planning director intervenes. “Get back to the pitch,” the director says as she deputizes a man on the tech team to get the coffee.
Julia, a C-suite executive, is asked to take notes in meetings where she’s the only woman.
Then there’s Michelle, who is constantly left out of meetings and has her work handed over to younger, less qualified men on the creative team. And Gretchen, whose male former managing director sits inappropriately close to her during meetings, legs touching, and asks her to go to a client visit with him alone for the week. And Angela, an intern, whose male executive creative director slaps her butt at happy hour. And so on.
It’s not clear if these tales of woe are based on actual events. But if so, one thing is certain: While the women might have felt slighted, it’s highly likely that there were zero minorities present. That is, White women might face demeaning moments, but racial and ethnic minorities don’t even get a chance to be dissed—the truth is, people of color face far worse discrimination from White men and White women in the field.
Here’s another excerpt worth noting:
Karen Kaplan, CEO of Hill Holliday, defines it this way: Diversity is being invited to prom; inclusion is being asked to dance. It’s not hard to “game the system when you report diversity numbers,” she said, but really being inclusive is about allowing people to influence the strategic direction and leadership of the industry.
Nice. The CEO of a White advertising agency admits it’s easy to “game the system when you report diversity numbers.” Hey, it’s also a breeze to create faux inclusiveness via your website culture section—however, the leadership section tells the true story. White women like Kaplan prefer to focus on diverted diversity and whine about the gender pay gap versus advocate for progressive change.
Here’s a third excerpt to inspire annoyance:
Lori Senecal, global CEO of CP&B, who is retiring at the end of the year, said she believes the industry has to evolve the vocabulary around the perception of women in leadership. “For instance, it would be great for women with a strong point of view to be described as decisive versus difficult,” said Senecal.
Okay, but Senecal once admitted, “The glass ceiling is more of a thing of the past.” Guess she’s evolving her perspective on the alleged discrimination that White women face in White advertising agencies. It would be swell if she were more decisive in her viewpoints.
“Advertising Is Still a Boys’ Club” is not the true problem. “Advertising Is Still a Whites-Only Club” is the issue everyone strives to ignore.