{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "From a racial and gender perspective, it feels like my agency is overcorrecting at times. Does anyone else experience this? Seems like I’m punished for being a white guy in advertising nowadays.", "post_id": "5c882ab0426639001cb19cf3", "reply_count": 460, "vote_count": 112, "bowl_id": "5565cfca8b2b9a03009acf57", "bowl_name": "Advertising", "feed_type": "crowd" }

From a racial and gender perspective, it feels like my agency is overcorrecting at times. Does anyone else experience this? Seems like I’m punished for being a white guy in advertising nowadays.

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Hey OP, fellow white guy here. I can empathize with how you’re feeling, that same reaction has bubbled up in me before. It wasn’t until I saw the reason for it with my own eyes that I understood what was really going on.

Women and POC are underrepresented in EVERY field, especially advertising. What you’re feeling? They’ve been feeling that for decades. The only difference is that oftentimes, those opportunities went to white men without the ones giving the opportunities even realizing it. (Of course, plenty of them were just racist and/or sexist themselves.) There’s unconscious biases woven into every branch of our society, integrated so deeply that we often can’t even see it.

I think it was Jon Stewart who said he realized he had a writers room problem when he looked around his writers room to say “Hey, we don’t have a representation issue, right?” and saw almost nothing but white guys looking back at him.

If you feel like they’re overcorrecting... well, maybe it’s because they are. I don’t mean that they’re penalizing white men for being white men, I simply mean that they’re trying to do a lot of work very quickly to try to move the needle back toward the center. They might limit a lot of their talent searches specifically to minority groups to do this. If there’s a better way to do that, to correct for the massive representation imbalance our industry has historically had, I’m open to it. But we’ve had a good, cushy run for a long while, and it’s time for other people to get the same chances we’ve had. In all likelihood, that’s going to mean some of us won’t get the briefs, pitches and promotions we might have gotten earlier, at least for a little while.

But it doesn’t mean that the ones who do get them don’t deserve them.

There’s still a place for you in this industry. There’s a place for all of us. Ours is a trade of sharing experiences, and your experience as a white man in the world is just as valid and just as needed as others’ are. The difference now is that we have to share the spotlight.

There can be value in that, specifically for you. You can choose to say people who get the opportunities you don’t aren’t deserving of them, or you can choose to root for them and find the opportunities that ARE right for you. You can say it isn’t fair (when in reality, it’s actually becoming MORE fair), or you can choose to see this for what it is: an opportunity to learn, grow and expand your experience. Broaden your horizons, add more to your mind so you can make better work.

The world is changing, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a place in it. And of course, if you truly believe your superior work is being overlooked specifically because you’re a white man, you have every right to take your book to the street and find a new shop


" I don’t mean that they’re penalizing white men for being white men, I simply mean that they’re trying to do a lot of work very quickly to try to move the needle back toward the center." THISSSSS

Now you see that 400 years of white supremacy structuring this society has hurt everyone. Even whit men. That’s because at some point in our history it was never going to be enough to be just white and male. Unfortunately for far too long race has been the fundamental organizing principle of US society. When I was in high school I remember one of my white school mates telling me I got into UVA because I was black. I guess thought UVA was over correcting. And the worst part about it is I wasted time justifying to him why I deserved to be there. Never once did I think to say, “Well you go into your college because you are white.” But there in lies the real problem: he never questioned whether he really deserved his success. Therefore, he never really did rise to his full potential because he was never investigated it beyond what he expected of himself as a white male. But times changed. New skills and thinking were needed. But why in improve yourself when society keeps telling you that being white and male is enough? That’s the big lie. Now the curtain has been drawn back. Scandals like the recent education debacle has shown that the system is not fair and favors the white and affluent. We aren’t surprised but the shock of the revelation has everyone re-examining assumptions. Now people like me are saying out loud that white men have enjoyed 400 years of affirmative action. When I said the only thing that works to move the dial is shame and litigation, a white man responded, “I don’t that that’s an effective course of action.” This time I had the right answer: “Why not? It worked for white people for 400 years and by God these methods have some legs.” You see, when I hire black or brown people, I know there are white colleagues that are thinking, “She’s only hiring minorities. She can’t possibly be finding that much minority talent.” Ironic isn’t it? Few white managers have ever had to question their hiring of white people until now. So over correcting is strong language. I’m thinking those folks on this thread, white and black, who are asking you to do a bit more self examination might be doing you a favor. The business is stressful and the talent machine is pretty broken for everyone, but the business is changing. The demands are different, especially for creatives who are now expected to design experiences that drive data driven results. It isn’t enough to be a copywriter or an art director anymore. For black and brown folks who’ve found acceptance in digital neighborhoods, entertainment and mobile communication, some opportunities have opened up because they couldn’t participate in the more mainstream ad contexts that are soon becoming antiquated as the world demands more transcultural literacy and competency. So a bit of introspection might put you on a path of enlightenment if you don’t get caught up in the myth of white supremacy and privilege. Good luck in your new future

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Even if this is actually true, your white male privilege advances you in literally every other aspect of life. Get over it.


I’m late to this OP, but it seems like you’re open to hearing other viewpoints, so I thought I’d add to this - could it be possible that your perception is skewed because your unconscious expectation is that there should be a white male majority on any given account?

A recent study found that men believed women in meetings contributed fairly when they spoke 15% of the time, and felt women were ‘dominating’ the conversation when they spoke 30% of the time.
With that in mind, could it be less a case of ‘overcorrecting’ and more that you’re so used to seeing and hearing from others like you that a dynamic shift feels more dramatic than it is? And if it genuinely is a significant change, how can you be sure that this is about optics and not merit? Perhaps these people have been overlooked repeatedly (I can’t tell you have many times I’ve been on teams that were considered diverse enough because there was one woman, one PoC and 10 white men) and have finally been put in a position to adequately show their talent?

Something else to reflect on is why this is a cause for concern for you. If your work is really good, you’ll be given the chance to work on important accounts. No-one will overlook talent in favour of looking progressive if the work is unsatisfactory and clients are leaving.
If you’re worried that someone with mediocre work will get a job you’re better qualified for despite your excellent work, all because of the colour of their skin or their gender, welcome to the world of minorities and women! We’ve watched average white men rise over better candidates for decades, and while it’s unfair and it feels awful, you can probably at least feel reassured that if they don’t succeed in role, a woman or minority is more likely to be fired or have to resign, or be set up to fail so the status quo can return (look up the punishment gap and glass cliff).
Finally, if you’re not sure your work is of that high a caliber, why do you feel like you should be chosen for these large accounts? Even if you feel your work is on-par with some of the people who have been given the chance, why is it you feel like that should have been your opportunity? If you really get introspective, is it genuinely because you feel you bring something to the table they can’t, or do you just subconsciously feel like this was something you were entitled to because these roles have always gone to others like you in the past?

Other people advancing isn’t about punishing white men, but it does mean the make up of teams will change. If you embrace being exposed to different viewpoints, I think you’ll not only be pleasantly surprised with the results, but you may even see positive changes reflected in your own work. Good luck OP!


Has a married EVP ever invited you to his swimming pool and then threatened to get you fired if you told anyone? Have you been called a bitch/slut/uptight whore at work? Have you had your ass grabbed at an experiential event on the job and been told to “get over it”? Have you been told to change your natural hair because it’s unprofessional? Have you been told your name is too “ethnic” and therefore your resume will go in the trash? Have you been told to “talk more white” so that you can succeed? No. You will never face the hurdles women and minorities have to overcome. You have NO idea the amount of discrimination we face daily. No one is doing terrible things to you on purpose because you’re a white male. You say they’re getting special opportunities and briefs, etc.? Welcome to what advertising has been for us until just recently. Try working harder. Like we had to do


Race is a social construct...that’s why we need to hire more non-whites


Maybe agencies are seeing the value in having different perspectives on big briefs. Maybe they are finally realizing that it benefits the clients and themselves to have a staff that reflects the general population. Maybe it’s not overcorrection, it’s just finally catching up.


OP, I know there are many forks in this thread so maybe you haven’t seen the comments above, but I’d love to hear if any of it resonates with you.

May I suggest you smile more? Maybe you’re coming off as too aggressive? Maybe try being more amenable in meetings!


Haha I do smile :) maybe not at some of the comments made in this thread though 😂


OP + others who agree: you know that feeling you have right now? That frustration? That questioning of how is this ok? Wondering if it’s real or just your imagination? That is the same feeling every minority (PoC, women, LGBTQ) feels.

It 100% does suck but this is a rare opportunity for you, for the first time, to fully understand and experience the frustration and feelings of helplessness that come from injustices inflicted on you solely based on things you cannot control.

If you are ready, this could shift your entire way of being in the world and allow you to become a more empathetic human.

But, if you’re not ready to do that, can I suggest you take a look around and review other posts in FB? You’ll find that white dudes are still in charge and still succeeding. They still get to be the primary decision makers in our careers and our country. So, really, you’re fine.

P.S. Please look up privilege in the context of race, gender and sexual/gender orientation and what it means. Every human has some hardship where another did/does not. That is not what privilege means in this context.


WK1 and SS1 🙌🏽🙌🏽


Oh buddy, you’re not alone. It’s reverse discrimination. For an industry that touts its proactive thinking, its extremely reactionary.


STD1: If you had bothered to read the Google guys manifesto, you would understand that he was all for diversity. His argument was that Google was going the wrong way about it.

Of course knee jerk reactions like yours, from people who only like news sound bites, meant this guy lost his job.


Check out the first couple slides in this presentation from John Maeda. Hopefully it’ll help illuminate why “overcorrection” is necessary. Although John explains it with a lot more empathy and eloquence.



I LOVE John Maeda! Thanks for sharing ACD.


I’m white and I’m glad my agency is correcting the imbalance that has been an issue for a long, long time.


Once you get to 77% white though, you’ve hit your goal.


It’s crazy how so many people are shocked and angered about how unfair they think it is to be judged by things other than their talent and books. Privilege is blinding, and It’s a shame losing some of it is what it takes many to acknowledge it was ever a problem in the first place. Phrases like “reverse discrimination” and “over correcting” tells me there are a lot of people in this thread who still don’t get it, or even scarier, thought there wasn’t a problem with the way things were.

Not saying it to be a dick, but of course it sucks, of course we all wish we could start over from ZERO, but we’re not at ZERO. This is one of those hard conversations people say they want to have, but can’t objectively have until they’re ready to own their privilege.


I didn’t say “equality” is the wrong thing to strive for. I said “equality of outcome” is the wrong thing to strive for. I don’t disagree with a lot of what you said, but there is an important nuance that you’re missing here.


It’s happening at our agency too. We’re not looking to hire any white men.


drop the agency name so we can apply


As a member of a racial minority who started in advertising nearly 20 years ago, I watched less qualified white males who barely did the minimum amount of work get promoted over me for years. I didn’t get mad. Never complained. I was born in this country, I always knew I would have to work twice as hard to get half as much. So I did.

I stayed later. Wrote more drafts. Asked more people for their input. Gave all the weekends. Obsessed about work when I wasn’t at work. Read books about work in my free time. Killed myself to take the worst projects and clients and make them half decent. I gave a lot of myself to get where I am.

Overcorrection? Maybe. Maybe you’re just not working enough to warrant the opportunities. Life isn’t fair, never will be , so maybe hustle a little harder instead whining about it. Women and POCs have been doing it for years.


Angry. Definitely makes me angry.

Question: have you ever wondered why there were so few ethnic minorities in the ad industry? Or noticed that when they are recruited in, they don’t stay? If you haven’t, that is fine. But exclusion and in many instances racism, is very real in this industry. Seems like the changes (or as others put it - overcorrection) have been noticed more than the initial injustice itself because it’s impacting other people’s worlds. Imagine what it is like to have this done to you daily for years. First article about discrimination in the NY ad industry that I could find was written about 55 years ago —- and sadly very little has changed.


Some of y’all never been asked “how did your hair get like that” when you wash or braid it and it shows


SMP 1 - that sucks but I completely understand. Hope you're at a better place now that treats you like an actual person.


There are only so many seats at the table. Historically, your seat has been given to you based on what you look like. Now you have to earn it. So compete for it! But be graceful


Hiding behind MLK is such a cliche’d, intellectually cowardly move, as is attacking someone’s comment by saying it included buzzwords. Unoriginal and lazy.

If this is how you think, talk, and write at work OP, perhaps you are missing these opportunities because you are not as good as these other people. If someone who worked for me made some of the comments you did in this thread, I would lose confidence in their abilities.


The most dangerous person in the world is a white man who can't fathom his perspective may be stuck on the wrong side of history.


what does this reply have to do with sc2's comment, exactly?

OP google “equality vs. equity”. Read carefully.


It's advertising. We make ads. Nothing will go wrong if solutions that foster diversity, equity, and inclusion are implemented. The work will actually get better, because right now most of the stuff coming out of agencies is trash. Flaming, hot trash.


I know HR execs are definitely looking to hit a gender quota these days. Is that discriminatory? Ask a lawyer.

But I haven’t really seen it play out in the form of day-to-day, internal favoritism. Gender-based, internal decision-making would be quite risky from a business perspective. At that point, you’d hope talent, productivity, etc. would be the deciding factors. Perhaps internal promotions are being deliberately steered towards certain genders too? Again, seems risky from an operational standpoint (and there’s the potential discrimination thing).

Just do your best to kick ass. If that doesn’t work, kick ass for someone else.


Couldn’t agree more!


OP - thanks for posting this, sharing your experience, and sparking this difficult conversation.


Of course. Good to be talking about sensitive topics because my hope is they can help us all progress.


As a white man in advertising, I feel no pity for white men in advertising. This is not overcorrecting, this is evidence that diversity is increasingly important, necessary, and hopefully an early sign of a shift that should have happened decades ago.


I feel pity for anyone who is judged based on their age, gender, or race instead of their work or ability.


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