There is a small but slowly increasing number of candidates who are pro-actively asking us about our clients’ gender diversity and equality policies. It is too early to say whether our answers, when we have them, are starting to impact which opportunities are then pursued by those candidates, but who do you picture as the asker of these questions in your head?
As you would expect, none of those who have asked us these questions so far have been white and male, but there were plenty of that privileged group sat on panels in the sunshine chairing workshops and discussion groups on precisely these topics in Cannes this year.
The irony of these images didn’t escape many, and the cynical amongst us have labelled this as only so much value posturing set against the backdrop of a first world playground. Whilst I totally accept these individuals are genuinely committed to positive changes within their organisations, there are no risks or sacrifices involved for them when expressing support for diversity and equality. They are successful and powerful already. It’s those members of minority groups looking to compete for opportunities within the media market place who have to really get to grips with the genuine intent of a company around these policies. And they have to hope that it’s not just empty gestures because for them it will be bound up in amongst all the other factors that determine the outcome of an interview process.
And despite supposedly being a member of a minority myself as a female, in reality I have also benefited from the support, opportunities, freedoms and choices that come with privilege. So as a headhunter, able to facilitate entry into some of the best digital companies in market, I owe it to my clients and my candidates to be challenging my unconscious biases every day and offering substantive action myself. What that looks like I still need to figure out but perhaps it needs to start with finding out and establishing the stats and intentions of all of our clients around these policies.