JWT Launches Effort to Stem White Boy Bro Culture In Advertising

It's like an annoying zit that keeps reappearing; a nasty ear/nose hair that won't stop growing; an out-of-control cowlick that no amount of hair care product will tame; that idiot on Tinder who won't stop messaging. Yeah, I'm talking about the topic of diversity in the advertising world. For years -- decades, really -- the industry has struggled with this problem and yet we still end up with guys like Gustavo Martinez and the Campbell-Ewald dude who penned that ghetto day thing.

Following the J. Walter Thompson drama which featured CEO Gustavo Martinez getting fired for making racist and sexist slurs, the agency, under the tutelage of new CEO Tamara Ingram, is launching a diversity and inclusion council in partnership with consulting firm inQUEST. 

inQUEST will review JWT policies to ensure they are up to snuff diversity- and inclusion-wise, and the program will also include a "talk-to-me hotline" which any employee can call if they have concerns with issues relating to diversity and inclusion as well as anything at all with which they have concerns.



In a video sent to JWT staff, Ingram explained the new program saying: "We fundamentally believe that diversity and inclusion is essential if we are going to deliver the extraordinary work that we need to do, to transform and grow our clients business. We need to represent all people to get those engaging insights that can deliver the engaging ideas that can make such a huge a difference for our clients."

In addition to the diversity program, Ingram has hired former Y&R Chief Talent Officer Celia Berk to be JWT's Chief Experience Officer, a newly created role designed, specifically, to handle diversity and inclusion issues. Berk will manage the hotline and oversee the council.

Whether or not this new effort will see success isn't clear. The ad industry has a long history of shirking diversity. All the way back in 2006, New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook, who headed up a series of hearings on the subject, said, in reaction to agencies dissing the hearings in favor of "more important" Advertising Week events, agencies "ran like chickens with their asses plucked clean."

While the solution to eradicating the ad world of white boy bro culture while fostering diversity and inclusion may seem complex, I see a simple solution: don't be a dick. No, really. Don't be a dick. But do be polite. Do be respectful. Do treat your fellow co-workers as you'd like them to treat you. Do understand the fact that your boss, co-workers or subordinates are male, female, black, white, pink, purple or otherwise is entirely irrelevant and all that matters is whether or not they can do their job.

There's even a tagline: Delivering Diversity One Less Dick At A Time.

2 comments about "JWT Launches Effort to Stem White Boy Bro Culture In Advertising".
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  1. Rob Donner from AudienceXpress, May 16, 2016 at 9:34 a.m.

    I think your entire last paragraph sums up the solution to a lot more than the diversity problem.  We don't need multi-volume policy manuals, or laws that resemble encyclopedias.  The only rule you need to cover a lot of these problems is, Don't be a dick.  Polite and respectful helps also (and essentially are the same thing as Don't be a dick), in many situations inside and outside of the workplace.  And it's a simple rule - even better!

  2. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, May 16, 2016 at 10:52 a.m.

    The one attitude that most often holds back agency diversity initiatives is found most often in job descriptions for open positions, "Must have agency experience." This belief alone inhibits new thinking more than any other.

    You want to create new and diverse points of view? Hire people who have never worked at agencies (this from someone who has worked nowhere else). If you want to deliver "extraordinary work" (itself a load of self-important horseshit), find people that are extraordinarily different from the insular world you have built. Otherwise, hey it's Internet Week!

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