Blind Items: Diversity Is Hard. So Are Clients.

By Patrick Coffee 

If you’re tired of hearing people throw around the word “diversity,” we suggest you get used to it. We personally don’t think that the persistence of this topic is a bad thing at all, and the fact that it sometimes leads to a bit of grumbling from the trenches is both predictable and, in its own way, self-fulfilling. We’ve seen more news items about women being hired and promoted at agencies over the past few months, but it’s not just creative departments or C-suites that struggle with this challenge.

  • For example, a certain awards show organization has received some criticism in the recent past due to the fact that it is made up of — you guessed it — a bunch of white guys, many of whom are over 40. The organization would like to overcome that critique, but it’s a hard thing to do. This particular group hasn’t been able to successfully recruiting female industry leaders to join them, and they’re not making things easier for themselves: we hear that they have reached out to certain prominent women in the business, offering them the distinct honor of serving. There’s a catch, though, as these women can only score those primo placements if they choose to make a generous donation of a few thousand dollars. Chump change!
  • And then sometimes it’s just plain old double standards. One source relayed to us a story about a group of more than 20 interns who got a great gig at an international agency this summer. They were split fairly equally by gender, but the results of their work were anything but. According to this source, as soon as the internship was over every male intern got a job offer. Agency bosses told the 12 women in the group that the company would need to “find a way to make room in the budget” after they’d already hired their male colleagues, many of whom got picked up before the internship even ended. For context, most of these young women have either received degrees from portfolio schools or just finished undergrad programs in advertising. One of the male interns called our source “honey” or some variation thereof while announcing his new gig, so it would seem that he’s settling into the role. We first heard of this story more than a month ago, and as of today none of the female interns have been hired.
  • Sometimes agencies have trouble attracting talent for different reasons. We hear that one relatively fresh-faced organization with some big wins under its belt can’t quite hire enough staffers to handle all the business. This is complicated by the fact that the agencies that lost the accounts are trying to prevent the winners from scooping up all their former staffers, even though the clients don’t seem to mind. Additionally, many job seekers simply don’t have the skills required to work in this Brave New World environment — and we hear that a few have declined because they’ve worked for the clients in question before and would prefer not to do so again.