Everybody company's gotta have one – a diversity and inclusion plan. It's like, in the aughts, when everyone needed a functioning website. You know, except this is meaningful.
The brief fueling this effort could use a bit of a rethink, however. Especially in the advertising and marketing sector – because we've neglected to focus on the most important audience.
We've gotta get the children.
There's that song about teaching them well and letting them lead the way. I think there's something to that.
Kids are clearly on our collective minds already. For instance, "Fearless Girl" is child focused, but the bronze statue on Wall Street really has a grown-up message for grown-ups. Not kid-tested nor kid-approved.
To attract more women, more people of color, more queer voices and more interesting perspectives to the biz, we need a charm offensive at grade schools and career days and on network television – our dominant cultural medium and mover of societal norms – to let kids know that there's an industry where being a cynical weirdo is actually a viable career choice.
GE used to do this with a traveling experience at schools – identifying kids with aptitudes for STEM fields and providing support to get those kids through school and into positions afterward. Those engineers always did understand the importance of a good development pipeline.
Advertising could do this. We've got a great pitch and the absolute best people to pitch it. And we really need to reach kids early because getting into the business is still an arcane process. "Start building that portfolio now, little Tina. Your watercolors show promise."
I'm here because, as a child, I was exposed to a heady mixture of advertising glam and ample black-and-white bosom on television. Watching Bewitched was my first exposure to the daily life of an ad exec, in the form of Darren Stevens.
If I'm being generous, I'd say I was a pretty perceptive kid for picking up on what Darren did for a living. If I'm being honest, I'd say that stuff really just slipped into my mind while I was nursing a massive crush on Samantha Stevens, played by Elizabeth Montgomery. It's a crush that has, for better and for worse, informed every meaningful, romantic relationship I've had ever since. But I found a career out of it, so I'd say Bewitched comes out as a net positive on the balance sheet of my life.
While we're on the subject, Bewitched is a show that's worthy of a modern reboot. My spouse has magical powers. Hilarity ensues. is a timeless and relatable log-line for a sitcom. Do it with a broader, more diverse Modern-Family-style cast where the witches and muggles marry. I'd watch it.
And maybe, just maybe, getting a few more flattering portrayals of the industry onto television will open more clever, young eyes to the fabulous possibilities awaiting them in the wonderful world of advertising and marketing.