Time for New Perspectives

 Image courtesy of Gottfried Lindauer

Image courtesy of Gottfried Lindauer

This week I read an article about diversity in advertising, by Founder and ECD Bridget Taylor of Auckland ad agency Contagion. As a fellow Māori and agency owner this really touched a nerve and drove me to add my two cents to the conversation around diversity in an industry dominated by ‘white males’, as Bridget mentions. And largely what this entails for those not from these circles.

I am Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu and Tainui, I am related to Irihapeti Hahau, who was the daughter of the second Māori King, Tāwhiao - this is my lineage, a far cry from the advertising boardrooms that dot the Auckland landscape. Although I don’t speak Te Reo and don’t practise the tikanga of my ancestor’s daily, as a Māori you do have a different set of sensibilities in certain environments.

Advertising was definitely a change of environment and one I certainly had no idea about, especially coming from a less affluent suburb on Auckland’s North Shore. At Glenfield College, ‘Advertising Creative’ certainly wasn’t on any list as an option for my career aspirations. If I knew what the life of a ‘Creative’ entailed, I probably wouldn’t have spent three years completing a Bachelor of Communication studies at AUT, also had I known some people in the industry or had family connections, this may have fast tracked my career trajectory.

 I totally agree with Bridget’s thoughts about the lack of Māori in our industry. Māori youth often don’t have any exposure or role models to even think about advertising as a career option. This is something I’d like to help change.

After attending a few Hui at the Whāriki Business networking events in conjunction with ATEED, I’ve been inspired by the work they are doing. The older generations are now championing the younger rangatahi who are also becoming astute business owners and budding entrepreneurs themselves. This kind of leadership and mentoring is something we need more of, particularly in advertising.

 Times have changed and so has our society according to the New Zealand Comms Council. The makeup of our nation is up to 200 different ethnic groups, 160 different languages and almost 50% of the population are non-European and projected to climb further. 

This is in stark comparison to advertising’s unequal display of a diverse workforce, where the industry is predominantly European. Kind of an empty discussion, when the reality of our diversity in advertising doesn’t match the enthusiasm for change around the issue.

At least the discourse is positive, we just need some action to make this idea succeed. With this discussion going in the right direction, the future of our industry is sure to be dynamic and diverse!

Article originally published for LinkedIn by RUN Creative Director Raymond McKay

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