The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

If You’re Not Fighting Against Racism, You’re Complicit To Racism …

So I know we’re only in day 2 of this blogs 2021 life … but I gave you a couple of weeks of peace to ease into the year and wrote an exceptional bad post – even by my low standards – to prepare you for the onslaught so I feel I’ve been very respectful.

Talking of respectful, here’s an example of people doing the absolute opposite of it.

OK, this happened last year – the year where everything was shit – but it still blows my mind this shit is still being spouted.

What’s worse is when I first saw it – and tweeted about it – a person I vaguely know stood up for it.

Went on about how it’s hard to hire people of colour people there’s not many out there.

That he – as a small business owner – had to go for the best person who is easiest to get because he can’t spend time searching.

Bizarrely, this was his attempt to show he wasn’t racist – because “he saw no colour, just wanted talent”.

Of course he saw no colour, he was just hiring white people.

But then this is not a new excuse spouted by people being racist – whether conscious or not.

Putting aside the fact people who ‘see no colour’ are basically admitting they define and judge others by their own standards or expectations, which – by the nature of corporate hierarchy – are white standards. And putting aside the fact that maybe their attitude to want ‘easy’ stops any person of colour applying because they think they stand no chance of being given a shot. The reality is this abdication of guilt, blame throwing and deliberate ignorance are classic signs of racism.

Talent is everywhere.

Open the door and you will see them.

If you claim you don’t, it’s either because you’re not looking or they know you won’t let them succeed.

Adland is so guilty of this.

A few months ago – when Black Lives Matter was on the front pages of the World’s newspapers – the industry was screaming about how they wanted to make a difference.

Create huge change.

Well, adland … where’s the fuck is it?

Where’s the leadership changes?
Where’s the over-indexing of people of colour being hired?
Where’s the shifts in pay and promotion structures to create fundamental change?

Recently I wrote a tweet:

“Given adland has stopped being vocal about the need to be better with D&I practices, have we solved it?”

One of the people who responded told me how many agencies had actively changed their policies.

How committed they were to changing things.

And while that was nice to hear, the problem is the person who said this was white.

White people do not get to say if things are changing.

White people do not get to say if things are working.

White people do not get to place the burden of responsibility on others.

The only people who can say things are changing – or working – are people of colour.

That we fail to see this shows how far we have to go.

And the really worrying thing is people of colour may just give up on us.

They may take their talent and just go work in totally different industries.

One that sets them up for success.

Values their authenticity not their complicity.

Respects their talent and remunerates them fairly for it.

I wouldn’t blame them for it.

In some ways, I just wish they all got together and started their own company.

My god how amazing would that be.

It would also be the one thing that almost guarantees change would happen in adland.

Because while agencies may have good intentions, they suck at making things happen.

It seems most of the time the attitude is ‘how do we get all the benefits without the effort?’

If the situation was truly as bleak as they – and bank CEO’s – seem to think, why aren’t they investing in development of talent and operational change to liberate this incredible talent pool? Why do they get to just ‘bemoan’ the lack of talent rather than actually do something to change that situation.

I believe there’s two reasons.

1. They don’t want the hassle – professionally or economically.
2. They know there’s talent out there, they just don’t want to hire it.

Please note I’m not saying investment in education and infrastructure change would be wrong.

We know that people of colour are continually disadvantaged by a system designed by white people, for white people.

By changing that, we would see the potential of millions literally being realised … people who could and would make a difference. Not just for other people of colour, but all people … because while they should be prejudiced to those who have held them back for centuries, they’re not.

We can only dream of being that decent.

But it’s important to note that only embracing that view dismisses the huge number of people of colour who have defied every obstacle placed in their way to be ready to make a difference.

I don’t mean are ready ‘to be trained’ to make a difference, I mean are ready to make a difference.

People already doing amazing things – creatively and commercially.

Who have worked twice as hard to get half the benefits.

Expressing their talent in ways that go far beyond just making ads, but literally adding and creating culture rather than – as many of us white people do – take from it.

If the industry is serious about change, then the best thing we can do is stop spouting shit like ‘we see no colour’ and do the opposite … because one of the best ways to change this situation is to actually start seeing it.

Openning our eyes to the talent that is on our doorstep. In our offices. In our communities.

Because while those who choose to deny their existence may like to think they’re making a statement of fact.

Or expressing some sort of superior standard.

We know the the truth is they’re admitting they don’t look because they don’t care.

Fuck each and everyone of them.

26 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Rob’s back.

Comment by Billy Whizz

So are you. I don’t know if I can cope.

Comment by Bazza

Is this the first time Billy has been early to anything?

Comment by Pete

I am Billy. And I hope you will be more too.

Did I really just type that???

Comment by Rob

Fuck off losers.

Comment by Billy Whizz

good comeback.

Comment by andy@cynic

Welcome back Rob. I hope you and the family are safe over there. Sounds like a major nightmare at the moment. This post is sad to read. It’s very good and very important but still nothing has really changed. Talk rather than action, ignorance towards racism and self congratulations from the people who are the cause of this situation.

Comment by George

It only changes if people really want it to change. Too many companies only want it to change if it doesn’t change their situation. So they don’t do anything.

Comment by Bazza

Well said. I’ve just messaged you. Hope you can talk in the morning.

Comment by George

Totally agree with all these points. I’ve found it tragically fascinating to see the talk about D&I in agencies/companies/media fall off the radar. For all the talk of change, it only matters when it’s topical and in many cases, it only matters to look like you’re changing rather than actually making change.

That said, some agencies have stepped up to the plate. Mother in particular have been pro-people of colour. Matt Tanter needs a special shout out for pushing this so hard. And while there are a few more agencies who I have been told [by people of colour] have been pro-people of colour, the vast majority have sunk into their old ways. Probably using COVID as another reason to focus on what the business needs to survive rather than realising hiring diverse talent is the way to survive.

Comment by Rob

The Wells Fargo CEO is a disgrace. It is an excuse. And as you say, if he was really concerned about the lack of diverse talent, why is he doing nothing about it?

Comment by George


He – and the guy who told me “he saw no colour” – are a major part of the problem.

Of course they don’t see it that way … placing all blame on inherent prejudice of the institution and absolving themselves of all blame and all responsibility to fight it, change it and still hire because of it.

Is there institutionalised racism? Of course. But despite that, there is an incredible pool of talent … who have not only had to fight ten times harder for every thing they’ve learnt, but come out the other side with talent that brings something new and valuable to every organisation.

People who deny this or don’t want to recognise it are part of the institutionalised racism. That’s what they need to understand.

Comment by Rob

What this post has revealed is racism is everywhere. Even the people who think they’re not being racist. Good on you for fighting this Rob. The only way it will change is people doing things to stop racism, changing things to stop racism and fighting racism, however big or small.

Comment by Bazza

Great post Rob. Much better than yesterday.

I think George and Baz have said everything I could say. But I do think Trump’s final act as the worst president in history was to take the BLM movement off the conversation table.

Inciting riots in his name is the final act of a man who wants to ensure people of color are denied rights in this country. The CEO of Wells Fargo will be happy.

Comment by Pete

That’s a horrible but entirely plausible point.

That Trump is more upset about having his golf courses kicked out of the PGA tour than the damage he’s done to America says it all really.

Comment by Rob

Diversity is the whiteman’s game, POC switch off as nothing will change Rob and all they see is the same faces talking diversity and same people who are doing it for awards and recognition, they haven’t lived one day in the life of a POC.

Comment by Bise

I totally agree, and it’s that issue that’s making me so angry. Actually it’s more than that … it’s the casualness that white people/companies are now adopting. They’re not even trying to look like they’re trying.

I know there’s good people out there and I know some companies are proving it through actions rather than words … but right now, if I was a person of colour, I absolutely understand why they would think white people don’t want black people to be happy.

Obviously I am not a person of colour and – as a male – I am blessed with every privilege going. And while I am not in any way suggesting I am better than others out there, I am grateful to the experiences I’ve had around the world and the talented people of colour I know and work with – who have helped me see more objectively than subjectively.

The impact it had on me was vast. Helping me see ‘not being prejudice’ was not enough … you have to fight it and prove it through your actions. But the reality is it doesn’t take living around the world to see it which is why this casual ‘commitment to change is so pathetic. Obviously people of colour have seen this for decades, I just hoped with all the talk, it may have resulted in some real long lasting change. What an idiot I am.

Thank you so much for commenting, I really appreciate it.

Comment by Rob

Well said Robert.
The lack of D&I at the c-suite casts an even bigger shadow on the claims companies are commited to change.

Comment by Lee Hill

Yep. And yet companies still deny it.

I also am interested in how many companies are currently making a big deal of having a white woman in the c-suite – as if that shows their undeniable commitment to D&I.

Of course women continue to face incredible prejudice and obstacles within organisations and any move that elevates them is a positive one … but it just feels some companies feel hiring a single white woman is preferable to hiring multiplies of people of colour because they feel they’re ‘most like them’.

I could be wrong.

I hope I’m wrong.

And I’m not in any way saying women are complacent in this behaviour [if true] … it’s just I’ve heard and seen so much shit from leaders talking around the problem rather than dealing with the problem, that I am suspicious of a lot of D&I moves unless they are dramatic, decisive and plentiful.

Obviously I hold myself to the same judgement. I am in no way suggesting the moral high ground … I just feel because of my age and position [whatever that may be] I can force discussion and change.

I really want that. Not for any personal gain, but because I’ve seen first hand the talent that is out there and how their talent can add things to the industry that gives it a real change of being valuable again.

Comment by Rob

As someone noted in the comments, some people have embraced D&I for their own gain. No one can accuse you of that. The way you challenge your peers and celebrate the talent and work of those others have ignored is inspiring.

Comment by Lee Hill

some fuckers could. but they would only be doing it to distract attention from their lack of fucking anything. yes campbell. this is a compliment. for you. like winning the lottery.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s a new year resolution I never thought I’d see.

Comment by DH

look at the fucking state of that ceo wanker. washing powder brands could use his skin as proof of their fucking cleaning power.

Comment by andy@cynic

It is also an unfortunate reality Wells Fargo are a bunch of liars and fraudsters.

Comment by DH

A rich white man who works in finance and runs a bank has no right or credibility to talk about “the pool.”

Comment by George

It’s questionable if he has a right to not be in prison.

Comment by DH

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