Wednesday, June 28, 2017

13730: Sorting Through The Trash.

This Greenpeace campaign from Y&R in Namibia declares, “Trash Shouldn’t Define Our Culture.” Can’t help but notice a lot of the depicted trash is rooted in Western culture. Oh, and Y&R colonizing Namibia is pretty peculiar too, given the White advertising agency’s history and culture of trashing Blacks.

13729: Tweeting Racist Rhetoric.

A MultiCultClassics visitor pointed at the Tweet depicted above, which really underscores how diverted diversity has interrupted and disrupted the true diversity discussion. To gasp, “Racism in advertising isn’t tolerated—why is sexism still ok?!” displays a disturbing level of cultural cluelessness. For starters, the instances of insensitive and ignorant portrayals of minorities in advertisements far outnumber the sexist imagery. Even today, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben are alive and well—with descendants carrying on the tradition. Plus, there’s another layer of tolerated racism in advertising when considering the unbelievable underrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in campaigns. The racist trifecta is completed by the conscious and unconscious bias—exhibited by White admen and White adwomen—that keeps minorities, well, minorities in the industry. To tweet racism in advertising isn’t tolerated in order to protest a gender inequality that barely exists is deceptive, hypocritical and stupid.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

13728: Gender Equality=Inequality.

Adweek reported on a Cannes study revealing that gender equality smokescreens in adland have not benefited women of color. Wow, what a shocking revelation! Can’t wait to hear what diverted diversity divas Kat Gordon, Madonna Badger and Cindy Gallop have to say on the polling data. “Absolutely, the industry’s movement has not engaged or been very responsive to women of color,” chirped IPG Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Heide Gardner. “Frankly, I think it’s because most of the advocates are not women of color and that they just haven’t been aware that the game is different. … It is impossible to advance gender equality without dealing with other dimensions of diversity and identity.” Not sure what planet Gardner has been living on, as the White women’s bandwagon has been rolling merrily along for quite a few years. It is completely possible to advance gender equality while ignoring true equality—and our ever-exclusive industry has been doing exactly that. On Madison Avenue, White women have shattered the glass ceiling, but women of color have been relegated to cleaning lady roles to sweep up the shards.

Refinery29’s Cannes Study Finds That Gender Equality Efforts Have Left Women of Color Behind

Ad campaigns and workplaces still run on stereotypes

By Patrick Coffee

Given last week’s intense debates about Publicis and Marcel, one may have missed a major topic of conversation at the 2017 Cannes Lions festival: diversity, or the persistent lack thereof.

Several panels sponsored by companies like The Wall Street Journal addressed the matter only yards away from Mother London’s #CampaignForEquality billboards that featured industry personalities like Martin Sorrell and Cindy Gallop calling for more women in leadership roles. In an interview with Adweek, HP CMO Antonio Lucio also restated a dedication to diversity at both his own company and its agency partners.

But for all this talk, the movement has quite a ways to go. Research unveiled during last Wednesday’s IPG Women’s Breakfast panel found that marketing campaigns still traffic in stereotypes. And despite the ad industry’s highly visible efforts to move beyond a history of inequality, many feel ignored or left behind—especially women of color.

Nevertheless, gender stereotypes persisted

A study commissioned by IPG, National Geographic and female-focused media brand Refinery29 examined intersectionality and gender equality by way of a survey involving 4,000 women in five global markets and a series of in-depth follow-up interviews.

It found that the equality movement, as it were, has fallen short in both the global workforce and a marketplace still saturated with gender stereotypes.

A majority of survey participants think marketing remains dominated by such cliches (54 percent). Perhaps for this reason, most said these campaigns feel irrelevant (51 percent), and they do not believe that brands on the whole care about their personal experiences (53 percent).

“Given the changing landscape of consumer trends and how we are defining ourselves across many dimensions, it is surprising that the stereotypes we have used for so long are still quite prevalent,” said National Geographic evp, chief marketing officer Jill Cress.

She continued, “Take the current conversation around gender, for example, where around the globe we find individuals and organizations [like Facebook and Tinder] redefining traditional notions and expressions of gender identity. As marketers, we must also recognize this changing landscape and understand the layered identities of our customers.”

Deeper than demographics

Surprising as they may be, the IPG study’s findings fit with another piece of research from JWT and the Geena Davis Institute, which found that women remain under-represented in marketing campaigns by a striking margin of four to one.

Why have brands not corrected this imbalance despite the oft-repeated fact that a vast majority of consumer purchases are made by women?

“If marketers and agencies can go beyond the demo and psychographic definitions of women leveraged for marketing campaigns, and look at the small but important nuances of how women see themselves, we can start to see change taking place in creative and advertising,” said Hallie Johnston, Refinery29’s svp of client services and strategy for branded content.

The company’s own marketing efforts draw from what Johnston called “the power of niche audiences to move ideas at scale.” She said, “the more you can get closer to the micro topics and issues that women care about and reflect back a mirror of their mindset in marketing, the more you can humanize your brand and drive more engagement with your audience.”

This increased focus on targeting and personalization is in keeping with the findings of a survey in which only 44 percent of participants called womanhood “a universal experience.”

Paying lip service to diversity

Marketing strategies aside, the survey’s most striking findings concern the business world’s inability to improve its own diversity numbers, along with employees’ reluctance to speak out on the matter.

Seventy percent of women around the world said their workplaces are not diverse, and 53 percent do not believe gender equality has been achieved in either a professional or societal context.

Despite these sentiments, only 34 percent of participants said companies need to focus on “building an inclusive environment”—and a mere 22 percent agreed that women of color should hold more leadership roles.

These numbers are hardly surprising to veterans of a notoriously monochrome industry. While agencies have made a point of promoting more women to prominent positions in recent years, the overwhelming majority of those executives are white.

“Absolutely, the industry’s movement has not engaged or been very responsive to women of color,” said IPG chief diversity and inclusion officer Heide Gardner. “Frankly, I think it’s because most of the advocates are not women of color and that they just haven’t been aware that the game is different.”

Gardner continued, “It is impossible to advance gender equality without dealing with other dimensions of diversity and identity. Consider this: the overall wage gap for women in the US is 76 percent, but for Black women it is 64 percent and Hispanic it is 52 percent. It is mathematically impossible to solve this issue without solving for women of color also.”

“Even the stereotypes they have to overcome are different,” she added. “We did a program on Black women in leadership and motherhood did not come up once in the discussion. How people experience the world is driven in part by their identity.”

Progress is impossible without change

Despite overwhelming support for diversity and inclusion in the abstract, only 24 percent of respondents in this survey said they would speak up if uncomfortable with the “-isms” directed toward colleagues or consumers.

In other words, many decline to take action even in cases of problematic behavior and tone-deaf campaigns.

Given these discouraging findings, how will the ad industry—and the business world at large—begin to live up to its own promises? And how should young women and minority candidates who want to enter this field proceed?

“I’m not just a woman of color, I’m also a mother—and I think that I would say to my boys, ‘It is what it is, and you have a decision to make,’” said Gardner while noting that advertising is hardly the only industry to fall short on this front.

She added, with cautious optimism, “I really do think that we are beginning to move beyond that everlasting ‘conversation’ into more action. But if young people decide to join or stay in our industry, they also need to choose wisely. Diversity and inclusion is a value proposition … if the emperor has no clothes, hide your eyes and move along.”

A study released earlier this week by Ketchum and Fast Company argued that blind hiring, especially for entry level positions, could increase diversity. But Gardner countered, “Just having a blind resume process isn’t going to help if your job specs are biased … or if you ask biased interview questions and don’t have a clear framework for decision making.”

“We are not retaining and advancing people of color, in part, because of our business models and compensation strategies—but also because of the environment and lack of proof points for upward mobility,” she said. “I also believe we have talent on board and ready to go and they are probably underutilized.”

Unfortunately, the study’s findings indicate that this debate will continue and that women, particularly women of color, will face the same frustrations until a perceived need for action grows more urgent.

In the meantime, the fact that most executives—and reporters—addressing the matter are both white and male does little to move the conversation forward.

Monday, June 26, 2017

13727: P.S., HP BS.

Wanted to add commentary in response to a remark made by HP CMO Antonio Lucio during interviews at Cannes. While discussing the official memo Lucio sent to his White advertising agencies in August 2016, challenging them to improve their staff diversity, the CMO told Advertising Age the following:

By October we’re going to give you all of the numbers. What I can tell you right now is that in our lead agencies, the number of women leading the account has grown. The number of the women working in the creative department working on our account has grown where they were almost nonexistent. And in the media agency, the number of strategic resources leading our account, which in media is the most important role, has increased significantly as well. Our plan is that in October, by the one year anniversary of our call, we will sit down with all of the agencies and we’re going to do a white paper on the good, the bad, the ugly and the extraordinary.

Now, technically, Lucio only tasked his White advertising agencies with starting the inclusive revolution by promoting White women, as his comment above seems to indicate. At the same time, when Ad Age asked if the original request was exclusive to boosting female figures, Lucio clarified the intended goal by stating, “Women and people of color.” If Lucio does indeed share “all the numbers” as promised, it will be quite an accomplishment. To date, BBDO and Omnicom have steadfastly refused to disclose EEO-1 data to the public. So based on Lucio’s ability to keep his word, October could present an extraordinary trick or treat.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

13726: Taking Shots At 64 Shots.

64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World by former Saatchi & Saatchi Chairman Kevin Roberts could be retitled 64 Shits, as the author essentially shat out turds of wisdom on leadership.

Unfortunately, the book offers nothing fresh or original. Roberts simply regurgitates the perspectives of business experts like Peter Drucker and Tom Peters, repackaging the insights with his own alliterations and acronyms. Plus, he makes lots of tired sports analogies, embracing his personal obsession with Rugby. To complete the dearth of newness, Roberts closes by revisiting his Lovemarks concept.

Roberts’ resignation from Saatchi & Saatchi was ignited by commentary deemed sexist, and the book certainly doesn’t help his cause with its lack of lady lauding. The truth is, however, that White women thrive at the White advertising agency Roberts once led, making his claim—“the fucking debate is all over”—somewhat accurate. Hell, White women seem to be doing swell at the White enterprise that recently hired Roberts too.

On a related tip and flipside, Roberts’ book makes ample references to Black icons including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and Colin Powell. Roberts marveled, “How many organizations start each day with the rolling thunder of inspiration? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not say ‘I have a mission statement.’ He didn’t talk about rules or tactics. He talked about a moral imperative, about the Promised Land. He had a dream.” Yes, and idiots like Roberts slept on the dream, failing to embrace progressive change, marginalizing minorities and perpetuating exclusivity in a crazy advertising industry that desperately needs leadership with vision. Despite his patronizing faux reverence for equality fighters, Roberts is an Old White Guy, culturally-clueless hypocrite and discriminatory douchebag. On that point, the fucking debate is all over.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

13725: Reinventing Rhetoric.

Oh look! Campaign also provided column space to HP CMO Antonio Lucio and his diverted diversity drive. Forget Cannes. This guy’s going to nab an ADCOLOR® Award. Give the man bonus points for integrating the company’s tagline—Keep Reinventing—into his heartfelt half-hearted rhetoric. “I challenge each of you to influence others in your ecosystem to be more aggressive with their own D&I efforts,” implored Lucio, adding the imperative “to encourage your partners to meet your own D&I standards.” Okay, except Lucio’s D&I standards are admittedly focused on White women versus people of color. The ecosystem remains exclusive.

HP global CMO: diversity and inclusion create the fire that stokes marketing reinvention

By Antonio Lucio

If marketers aren’t inclusive they can’t authentically understand their customers, says Antonio Lucio, global chief marketing and communication officer, HP.

More global, more social, more diverse. Increasingly mobile and always-on. The pace of change in today’s digital world can make us feel disconnected and anxious, making deep emotional ties both rare and precious. And yet it is these emotional connections that help brands to stand the test of time.

In our digital era, every brand message acts as a human-to-human conversation, regardless of what platform it’s consumed on. Brands must reinvent their marketing to deliver emotional resonance. This is not just for consumers but for business partners as well. Doing so demands a deliberate and disciplined approach informed by perspectives that reflect a varied customer base—making diversity and inclusion (D&I) a prerequisite to any successful transformation effort.

67% of active and passive job seekers consider a company’s diverse workforce a major factor in evaluating prospective employers

While advancing D&I is unarguably the right thing to do, it is also increasingly becoming a business imperative for global competitiveness. Manpower reports that one-third of global employers experience difficulty filling jobs. Adding to the impetus for diversity in recruitment, Glassdoor found that 67 percent of active and passive job seekers consider a company’s diverse workforce a major factor in evaluating prospective employers. Faced with a shortage of skilled workers, companies in Silicon Valley and beyond understand the necessity of looking far beyond their usual pool of talent.

As we have embarked on our reinvention journey at HP, we have pushed to have D&I be more than simply a moral imperative; we are baking it into the DNA of our organisation. Data shows that D&I leads to more innovation, better creative work and stronger results. Simply put, if we aren’t inclusive how do we hope to ever authentically understand the customers we serve? We must make every effort to walk in the shoes of our customers to ensure their voices are present at the table.

So how is this accomplished? Look around you. Do most people in your group, department, company or industry look like you? If so, it’s time to define a new talent bar and expand your horizons. Recruit from diverse schools, actively search for underrepresented candidates and create programs to attract and retain diverse talent. Actively expand the global proficiency of your leadership team so they can better connect with and represent your various audiences.

At HP, we are building a more inclusive culture by providing our leadership and, most importantly, our hiring managers with unconscious bias training. We’re using technology to eliminate biased language in our job listings and giving underrepresented current employees a voice, ultimately resulting in opportunities for advancement at all levels of the organisation.

To reach a more diverse talent pool, HP recently launched a recruiting effort with a clear and simple message: HP is hiring, and talent is our only criteria. Our first spot featured the African American community and results speak for themselves, with an uptick in diverse candidate resumes, invitations to speak at Harvard and Howard University, and strong business school engagement with our recruiting and mentorship programs.

Dads and Daughters, the second spot, addresses the biases women face during the interview process. As a father to five daughters, I am profoundly grateful to represent a company that addresses these tough issues head-on. HP’s commitment to ensuring the next generation of women in the workforce have the same opportunities as their male counterparts fills me with great pride.

I challenge each of you to influence others in your ecosystem to be more aggressive with their own D&I efforts, and to encourage your partners to meet your own D&I standards. Demand your advertising and PR agency partners submit a plan laying out how they will increase the number of women and minorities in key creative and strategy roles. Join others, such as PwC’s chief executive Action for Diversity and Inclusion, to work alongside the most progressive organisations in the world to address diversity. Contribute to, volunteer or start initiatives to support underrepresented groups in your industry—such as Free the Bid, which aims to increase the number of female directors in advertising by pledging to give one in three competitive bids to a female director.

Reinvention is hard. Success depends on becoming more insight-driven and emotionally resonant—which emanates from a highly inclusive and diverse workforce. It’s working for HP—we are worth 30 percent more today than we were 18 months ago. This is tangible proof that forging emotional connections through perceptive, you-understand-me moments makes a difference to the bottom line. Creating an environment where unique perspectives are actively sought and celebrated will serve to power an innovative future.

Friday, June 23, 2017

13724: HP Stands For High Propaganda.

Adweek and Advertising Age spoke with HP CMO Antonio Lucio, who blathered on about diverted diversity from the exclusivity of Cannes. “If I could point at one thing that is getting in the way of real progress in our industry, it’s the lack of diversity,” declared Lucio. “We’re spending way too much time talking about it, not enough time doing what needs to be done.” Of course, Lucio is only doing the less-than-minimum of what needs to be done, as his progressive baby step involves promoting White women. Indeed, his comments to Ad Age were almost entirely gushing about rising female figures. Lucio revealed that his White advertising agencies will publicly share the actual success numbers in October, and he announced, “…We’re going to do a white paper on the good, the bad, the ugly and the extraordinary.” Yes, it’s so appropriate to call the report a White paper.

HP CMO Believes the Ad World Spends Too Much Time Talking About Diversity Instead of Implementing It

Company has balanced its leadership teams

By Kristina Monllos

CANNES, France—The ad world isn’t doing enough to improve the diversity of marketing teams and that’s something that HP CMO Antonio Lucio wants to change.

“If I could point at one thing that is getting in the way of real progress in our industry, it’s the lack of diversity,” said Lucio during a video interview with Adweek. “We’re spending way too much time talking about it, not enough time doing what needs to be done.”

And Lucio isn’t just paying lip-service to an industry-wide issue that has been a popular topic at this year’s Cannes Lions festival. He’s actually doing something at HP. “Over the last year, we’ve undertaken a very important initiative … to balance our teams internally to the point that today 50 percent of our most senior leaders in communications and marketing are female,” said Lucio.

Added Lucio: “If you believe in innovation, if you believe in improvement, diversity becomes a business imperative much more than a values issue. … We believe our ability to deliver more innovation and better innovation from a product standpoint and our ability to connect with our customers around the world will improve by having teams that are diverse in their composition.”

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‘It’s Working’: HP Says Its Push for Diversity at Its Agencies Is Getting Results

By Brian Braiker

Last September, HP Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Lucio sent a memo to HP’s five advertising and marketing agency partners asking for a commitment “to radically improve the percentage of women and people of color in leadership roles” in their organizations. In April, it released an ad promising to fight bias among its hiring managers. Now, almost a year into the diversity push, Lucio tells Ad Age that HP is already seeing real results—both internally and from HP agencies Gyro, BBDO, Fred & Farid, Edelman and Porter Novelli.

In a quick discussion at Cannes, Lucio reiterated his commitment to diversity and hinted at things to come.

Explain how it’s been going.

Better than I expected. Back in October we made an invitation to our agency partners to participate. We allowed them to set their own targets, understanding that they had to show meaningful improvement in the number of women working on our account, with specific emphasis on strategy and creative services.

Just women?

Women and people of color.

And they were going to set those targets themselves?

That was the only way they were going to commit to it. I thought that was a very important point. I’ve been doing marketing for a very long time. It is stronger when I can convince you to set your own target because it is your target. You are committed to delivering it as opposed to me imposing it on you.

Were there any targets that weren’t good enough for you?

None at all. I was very encouraged by the level of enthusiasm. I met with CEOs only. They did put some very interesting stretch targets. And over the last two quarters, we met once over their scorecard.

Can you share some specifics?

By October we’re going to give you all of the numbers. What I can tell you right now is that in our lead agencies, the number of women leading the account has grown. The number of the women working in the creative department working on our account has grown where they were almost nonexistent. And in the media agency, the number of strategic resources leading our account, which in media is the most important role, has increased significantly as well. Our plan is that in October, by the one year anniversary of our call, we will sit down with all of the agencies and we’re going to do a white paper on the good, the bad, the ugly and the extraordinary.

Any hints at what might be in there?

The only hint that I can give is that it’s working.

We’ve heard from some agencies, off the record, who bristle at this sort of mandate. They say it’s unfair, that it’s a sort of reverse discrimination.

I will tell you one of the CEOs told me that if his 10 lead clients had done this, the industry would be transforming at a faster pace. What we’re requesting is not arbitrary.

Talk about the internal adjustments you made to your own team.

When you looked at my team—like many marketing departments—out of the total population, about 60 percent are women. When you take it a notch higher—to managers—that number goes from 66 to 53 percent. From there to the senior leadership team, the ten most senior people in my global team, there were only two. So over a 12 month period, we worked it out through movements—changes, logical evolution of the structure, if you will—to get to a balanced 50/50. We had to do that first because without the strength of the argument, I could not have gone to the agencies.

You have to walk the walk.

I believe the changes has to be structural. The clients have to change, the agencies have to change and the production houses have to change as well. The number of heads of creative in the agencies is in the 20% range, the number of women directing commercials is less than 10.

When do we start seeing this reflected in the work, then?

Out of the work we just released, for example, the mother-daughters film, that was a female creative director that was not involved in our account before we started this. On the more mainstream stuff, our biggest product introduction on the computer side, which is inking, the director came from Free the Bid and she directed five spots that are going to be seen globally [starting this week]. That had never happened before. So we’re going to see this more and more and more. We test everything, and the way those five spots on the premium line tested, was some of the highest scores we’ve seen.

13723: Leo Burnett Burning…?

AgencySpy posted about creatives at Leo Burnett protesting the Publicis Groupe ban on award shows and trade shows in 2018. When the White advertising agency noticed industry equality would not happen for at least 66 years, they launched a tumblr demonstration. When threatened with the loss of trophies for a mere year, they deface their own headquarters and mount a global revolt. Perfect.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

13722: Experience Diversion.

Adweek reported on a Cannes study that showed “diversity of experience” trumps racial and ethnic diversity. It must be noted, however, that the study participants were 500 creative professionals. Um, polling members of an exclusive field on the topic of diversity is like asking the Ku Klux Klan to vote on inclusion. Diversity of experience prevents the experience of diversity.

Cannes Study Finds Diversity of Experience Is the Most Important Factor in Building Creative Teams

Ketchum and Fast Company call for ‘diverse voices’

By Patrick Coffee

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. The meteoric rise of social media and our own unconscious biases have created an echo-chamber effect that intensifies, rather than discourages, cultural and personal divisions.

The bubble narrative has grown increasingly popular after last year’s Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump. But a new survey examining the phenomenon doesn’t touch on partisan politics—it’s about the creative work performed by industries like media, communications and advertising.

A majority of creative professionals (54 percent) participating in a study conducted by global PR firm Ketchum and media brand Fast Company agreed that such an echo-chamber effect exists in their fields and that it can greatly impede creativity.

The most significant finding in the survey, which involved 500 members of the Fast Company community and precedes a June 21 Cannes Lions panel moderated by editor Robert Safian, may be that diversity of experience is seen as more influential than ethnic or gender diversity when building an effective creative team.

Experience is the key factor

“The biggest wake-up call that sets this study apart from lots of diversity conversations is that so many participants say diverse life experience makes the difference: how you grew up, your socioeconomic background, whether you traveled, etc.,” said Ketchum partner, chief strategy and creativity officer Karen Strauss.

A whopping 87 percent of participants said “personal experience” is a formative factor in their ability to develop creative ideas. Work experience (70 percent) and personal experience (61 percent) were deemed to have the greatest effect on the judgment and selection of those ideas.

Despite the ad industry’s well-publicized efforts to achieve greater ethnic and gender diversity, respondents ranked those variables last when it comes to shaping creative product (25 percent for race and 26 percent for gender) and evaluating that work (11 percent and 15 percent, respectively).

This isn’t to say that gender and ethnic diversity are not important, that the ad industry has lived up to its own promises on those fronts, or that demographics don’t play a large role in shaping each individual’s personal experience. Simply that those who work in creative fields think hiring those with diverse backgrounds should be emphasized.

And gender blinders do exist. When asked which groups provide “braver” ideas, a majority of both men (61 percent) and women (65 percent) chose their own genders.

A resistance to true diversity

Strauss said the echo-chamber effect stems from “deriving, testing and suggesting ideas only with like-minded thinkers.”

“We think we are bringing in a range of views,” she added, “but we tend to hire people with particular types of experience who are hired through networking and referral, instead of those who have virtually no experience in the [particular] field or come from a very different background.”

A majority of respondents across age groups, disciplines and backgrounds agreed that this sort of approach is common and that it is detrimental to creative work.

Nearly everyone involved in this study (95 percent) said interacting with others who challenge their beliefs and assumptions is a crucial part of any creative endeavor. And while 71 percent of respondents believe their organizations respect such diversity of thought, an overwhelming 85 percent said more needs to be done.

The message is clear: Agencies, media companies and marketing organizations draw too heavily from the same talent pools. But at least they’re aware of the problem.

“The survey respondents see that working alongside people just like themselves limits creative potential, and to get outside our bubbles, we have to build teams from varying socioeconomic, educational and geographic backgrounds,” Safian said.

Marketers failing to work with target audiences

The tendency to work only with those who think like we do also applies to market research.

According to the survey, only 9 percent of creative professionals always work directly with members of their target audiences when developing campaigns or related projects. A near majority of respondents (48 percent) said they never do so, relying instead on third-party research for the ideas that eventually shape their creative work.

“We were shocked that only 9 percent tap the target audience when they test an idea,” Strauss said, adding, “If you bring them into the process, then eureka—you’ve already diversified it.”

The overwhelming influence of seniority in agencies and related organizations also diminishes creative work, according to the survey. While 73 percent of those who participated said younger employees tend to submit “braver” ideas, nearly as many said the responsibility for choosing which ideas will prevail overwhelmingly goes to those with 10 or more years of experience.

‘Less cronyism; less hiring of sameness’

Given the near consensus that creative businesses need to encourage a greater diversity of thinking, one big question follows: What’s the best way to do so?

“One of the biggest answers involves hiring from outside your network and outside your industry—not the usual writers and designers,” said Strauss. “Another is prioritizing people with diverse socioeconomic, family, religious, ethnic and gender backgrounds.”

As one survey participant put it, “Don’t hire for portfolio; hire for curiosity.” But it’s one thing to talk about diversity of experience and another thing entirely to hire a junior art director who has no training in the advertising field.

“You can’t hire only green talent,” Strauss acknowledged, adding that many of those polled suggested a move toward more blind hiring to facilitate “less cronyism [and] less hiring of sameness.”

“It’s a very quick fix,” Strauss said.

At the same time, multiple executives speaking on background have told Adweek that blind hiring can shrink an organization’s diversity totals by focusing more on the very factors the study downplays—where you went to school, where you interned, who mentored you, etc.

Ketchum itself addressed this challenge last year by creating a “gamified” internship opportunity called Launch Pad, a program that seeks to counteract unconscious bias by anonymizing submissions and allowing recruiters to pick candidates based on their “ability to solve fictional client challenges.”

Strauss said Launch Pad increased the ethnic diversity of Ketchum’s internship class by 17 percent over the previous year and that 25 percent of all successful applicants had no prior experience in communications or marketing.

Yet, Ketchum and companies like it still rely on standard executive searches to hire C-level talent. And diversity gaps related to race, gender, education and experience persist across creative industries despite the overwhelming call for change on all fronts.

On that point, Strauss believes the conversation should move away from the word “diversity,” which she said is too closely tied to demographics.

“Most organizations are visually striving to increase gender and ethnic diversity,” she said, “but that alone doesn’t eliminate the self-segregation that happens—or the groupthink.”

She called the entire process “a work in progress” and noted that while Ketchum does not have a specific blueprint, its research has identified some clear steps that need to be taken.

The most important idea to keep in mind?

“Seek out people who challenge your views,” Strauss said. Of course, as the study revealed, this is far more easily said than done.