I just love a good old fashioned-brawl.
New York City Human Rights Commission Vs. Madison Avenue........The issue - diversity hiring.
I must admit, I was really looking forward to seeing the Madison Ave. suits climb into the ring with their ultra cool designer eyeglasses and "I'm too sexy for my cellphone" credit card size gadgets going off every 3 seconds.
But it didn't happen. As New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook so elegantly put it, the advertising agencies....
"ran like chickens with their asses plucked clean"
How do you really feel, Larry?
There have been so many interesting editorials and sound-offs about the issue I couldn't possibly quote them all.
What's really going on here? Is Madison Avenue still just a bunch of good old boys? Sure you have characters like Neil French mouthing off and getting themselves in hot water. But I don't think it's nearly as simple as that.
Would I personally love to see more women and minorities in higher positions in agencies? You bet I would. But honestly? I don't think you're going to see a lot of change. Part of the problem is these agencies are public. They have to cater to Wall Street.
Maybe it's truth, maybe it's just perception, but if you were on the board of a major company, would you have the guts to hire a female CEO? Let's take a real world example....
Xerox was struggling badly in 2000. They needed to make drastic changes. They announced Anne Mulcahy was taking over as CEO. In Anne's own words...
the day I was announced as CEO, I think the stock dropped another 20%
Was that because the market didn't have faith in Xerox? Or was it because the market didn't have faith in Xerox's choice for CEO? If she had been a man, would the stock have dropped 20%? We'll never know. For the record, Mulcahy turned the company around.
Xerox is growing again, the stock price has quadrupled on her watch, and this month, Forbes named Mulcahy the fifth-most-powerful woman in the world.
But this had to have a chilling effect on other public companies. Who wants to risk a 20% drop in their stock price by appointing a woman to lead the company? Wall Street aside, what else could be going on? Why the lack of women and minorities in high positions in advertising agencies?
If your target audience is women, wouldn't it make sense to have women at the top of your marketing decisions? Wouldn't that increase your chances for success? I think it can, but not in all cases. Take the case of Revlon.