“Expand the the number of people that come from diverse backgrounds and cultures– an accurate representation of the real America– on the creative teams so that someone is there to tug on some collars…”

Dove soap ad, showing a black woman turning into a white woman

Contributed by Sonya Blade

As the only woman of color in the marketing department of a $2 billion company, I have to tell you from my personal eyewitness account of working several years in corporate, urban projects, these Dove ads do not surprise me.

Due to NDAs I can’t get too into it, but I will say that I have come across many creative ad ideas that the creative team had NO idea how offensive it was until I told them.

How so? Because the people in these creative roles are those who have lived in a bubble most of their lives, have never been exposed to other cultures until their daily commute from their suburb into Manhattan.

It is the same ignorance possessed by teachers who grew up in the suburbs and are required to work in the inner-city public schools to compensate for their free master’s degree in education. Thus, students of color are impacted in many ways by their teachers’ background of isolation by being expelled 2-3 times more than non-white children.

It is the same ignorance possessed by new police recruits from the suburbs who are required to begin their careers in inner cities for many years before they land the cushy shifts in the suburbs from whence they came. The result is much higher incidences of stop-and-frisk among people of color, whether the orders are handed down from the local precincts or not.

There are so many others who work in fashion, music, media, etc., who, because they lived in predominately white areas their entire lives, do not have a clue about what is considered insensitive when they migrate into a larger city’s “melting pot.”

I am not suggesting that their background is an excuse. I am not suggesting that we forgive brands like Dove or even those we have to contend with at work in the office on a daily basis with their micro-aggressions because of said ignorance. I am suggesting that anyone who is in a position of power or can influence someone in the recruitment space, should be very conscious when it comes to diversity initiatives. Not just a numbers game when it comes to interviewing, (like at Facebook who had me interview with 7 people for one role last year clearly for their diversity quota).

Expand the the number of people that come from diverse backgrounds and cultures– an accurate representation of the real America– on the creative teams so that someone is there to tug on some collars when other brands are at risk of making the same mistakes like Dove, Pepsi, even L’Oreal with their photoshopped, skin-lightened model ads, and magazines with covers featuring photo shopped celebs with smaller waists, or music videos with cellulite-free thighs.

Corporations have to make more of an effort to be diverse in their recruitment or they not only lose respect from our community publicly, but financially– they will feel the effects later in their profit margins.

It is not the only solution (clearly we have so many other larger issues at hand in this era). But it is one– a small step that might make a difference, as we continue to fight against the country’s systemic racist practices that are deeply affecting so many other facets of our lives.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of BK Reader.


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