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A few weeks ago, this picture was doing the rounds and causing all sorts of hoopla …
Now, even though the company in question has issued a press release saying they are a true equal opportunity employer – it doesn’t look good does it.
OK, so they could argue that out of all the people they employ, the men at the top are the most qualified for their job … their female colleagues may openly agree with that point of view … or they may simply say their ‘meet the team’ photo doesn’t convey the true nature of their business and it has given them a wake-up call … hey, all of those could be true – however unlikely – but the fact of the matter is that while that picture may make some men think, “that’s how it should be”, I think it’s pretty sad.
Well three reasons.
1. I work in an industry where the number of female leaders is remarkably small.
[I got told less than 10% but I’m not sure how true that figure is, I’d imagine it should be less]
2. I work in a country where gender roles are fairly defined.
[Though in business, there is a massive percentage of females in positions of power here]]
3. I am a Westerner, heading up a planning department in China.
In essence, I am triple-guilty of what the guys at CellularSolutions have done, intentionally or otherwise.
Sure, it’s amazing that someone like me – a bloke from Nottingham with no formal academic qualifications – has been able to experience so many different and wonderful cultures … however, I must admit to being embarrassed that so many advertising leaders in this part of the World are  white and  male.
Now this post is not meant to be anti-men or anti-Westerner and I am a firm believer that you hire the best for the job, not what will look best to the casual observer … however with so many people in adland – especially in Asia – being similar to the group that was there before, it means we’re either not bringing people through quickly enough or it’s becoming a closed shop.
For the record, I believe/hope it’s the former rather than the latter – and I’m not just saying that because I am a white male in an agency ‘leadership’ position based in Asia – however I have always felt success for me in Asia is when I’ve been able to make myself redundant and while that doesn’t mean I’m going to resign any day soon [sorry W+K], I do feel that day is coming closer and I am genuinely excited about it … excited to the point where for the past few years, I’ve been preparing myself for what will hopefully be my subsequent career, something some of you are aware of and something I hope I don’t fuck up by not being qualified enough.
Anyway, I digress.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suddenly advocating an industry where only people from the home nation should work in that nation, but by the same token I’m not advocating an industry where the people at the top so poorly represent the culture of the home nation.
Of course, part of this situation is because the majority of ad agencies in Asia are owned by companies based in the UK, France and US so, just like countless industries and companies from other nations including Chinese/Asian firms – they tend to prefer having senior representation from people who have ‘grown up’ within their company culture … people they know and trust … and I get that, that kinda makes sense, however all that aside, for an industry that claims to be creative and liberal, I find it amazing we’re in a situation where women are still so poorly represented at adland boardroom level and for that to keep happening, I have to wonder if there is another reason other than the best qualified person for any given job at any given time is – by pure coincide – always a man.
And you thought government was out of touch with representing the masses …
I know this post goes from gender inequality to cultural inequality then back to gender inequality and I know it’s a highly sensitive subject so I just hope my rant doesn’t get misread or misunderstood because as I said, it’s not meant to be anti-men or anti-Westerner, just pro-equal chance. [Which I also know is almost impossible to administer, especially when the people making the decisions tend to be so highly represented by one particular group. In other words, this blog post is even more daft than my usual ones. Bugger]
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