Let’s get the diversity discussion moving

By: Michaela Aguilar, Head of Solutions, Havas Media Group and Chair, D+T Collective Diversity Advisory Board

The words ‘diversity and inclusion’ are just as over used in our industry as AI or Machine learning. Nearly every organisation is talking about the issues and claiming they have policies, strategies and diversity targets in place. But how diverse and inclusive is our workforce in digital and technology really?

I can relate to these issues for many reasons. I am a migrant from a different language background, I was a single mother with no family support and my kids are bi-racial. It took many years, a lot of determination, strengths and pushing back on judgements to make it to where I am today.

I have been living and working in Australia for 25 years, but looking around my office today, the type of individuals I see haven’t changed much. We are still hiring the same people we did a quarter of a century ago.

It is a common argument that its dangerous to hire a person for their gender or ethnicity to meet so-called quotas or targets, over their suitability for the job. But the sad reality is that there are simply not always enough applicants from individuals falling in the ‘diverse’ category. Some understand that thinking and sadly couldn’t be bothered to try, so its incumbent on us to better engage with the wider community and develop up the talent pool of marketers.

As my son, who is in his last year of university said to me recently, “I would hate to get a job only because I am not white. I want to get a job because I am the best and most qualified person.”

Agency culture needs to change to accommodate a wide range of employees who reflect the wider population

As digital agencies we have created an environment I would argue, that feels unappealing for most people with families, the handicapped, or mature individuals. It seems that you have to be young, overly energetic, work around the clock and understand every social trend out there.

Our leadership teams have a responsibility to develop and nurture young talent. Millennials are the future of the industry but they don’t yet have the commercial acumen and a deep understanding of how businesses and people work. It not uncommon to hear clients complain about troops of youngsters showing up for meetings and proposing outlandish ideas.

It is without doubt, hard to find employment or then survive in an agency if you are not a certain type. Our industry would greatly benefit from more diversity and inclusion to connect more effectively and genuinely with the client’s consumer. They are as diverse as they come. For example there’s a definite gap between the agency kids and the demographic with the disposable cash that the kids deem “old”. Funny that.

So let’s get the discussion moving with a view to agencies creating a common understanding of what diversity and inclusion means and implementing programs rather than making a token effort. We should aim to achieve a diversity and inclusion framework that makes everybody with the right skills feel comfortable when they apply for a job and join the team.

It will make us all more successful in the long run and more connected with each other and our work.


If you’re passionate about diversity in the workforce and would like to be part of the D+TC Diversity Advisory Board, email us on contact@dtcollective.org.au