At Campaign, Dave Trott acknowledged, “We’re Hiring The Wrong People.” While considering his agency’s studio head Barry White—a veritable anti-adman—Trott wrote:
I don’t think there’s enough people like Barry in advertising agencies.
People like the people we’re supposed to be talking to.
People who’ve got lives outside of advertising.
See we’ve got it wrong.
Agencies are staffed with people who seek out advertising.
Where actually it should be the other way round.
Actually it’s advertising’s job to seek out people.
Trott unintentionally underscored exactly why the industry continues to be plagued by a dearth of diversity. Agencies are quick to make job offers to familiar characters—folks who look, sound and think alike. And while “actually it’s advertising’s job to seek out people,” executives with hiring authority rarely cast for candidates outside of a limited, exclusive pool. It’s not just a matter of hiring the wrong people. It’s also about letting the wrong people do the hiring.