As a freelance copywriter, I enjoy working with different teams. There’s always new faces and new ways of solving problems. But most of the time, most of those faces look a lot like mine. So how similar are our perspectives and biases?
When I was let go from my last full-time job, I made an appointment with my financial advisor to roll over my 401K into my trusty IRA. (He’s figured out that the only time I visit is right after I’ve been laid off.) This time, between signing the usual forms, he pulled up a site that calculates what age you can retire. After punching in a few assumptions about my savings, he turned his screen around to show my magic number: 56. As I walked out to my car, a question nagged at me. How many 56-year-olds do I know in advertising?
It’s no secret that this business is a young person’s game. The never-ending hours and ever-shrinking budgets makes relying on junior talent an attractive choice. So whenever freelancing hits a lull, the nagging, little voice of self-doubt in my head taunts me with this phrase… advertising doesn’t need another old, white guy.
And it’s true. As I sit in yet another kick-off meeting, looking around the conference table at all the other white, male faces, I can’t ignore that this homogeny is not good for our work, our industry and our country.
Talking about age, race and gender is uncomfortable. But not talking about them is unconscionable. Thankfully, there are organizations making a difference. The 3% Movement champions the increased creativity and profitability that diversity brings. And in Austin, E4 Youth runs programs that bridge the gap between underserved youth and creative careers.
But we aren’t having these conversations often enough. So to face my fears, I’ve set what feels like an audacious goal; raise $4,500 for E4 Youth before my 45th birthday on October 25th. To do it, I’m turning my self-doubt into a rally cry…
Advertising doesn’t need another old, white guy. But it does need you to give a damn.
Please donate to help diverse talent thrive at BrandWriter.com/45th.
UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who contributed. And everyone who had open, frank conversations with me about the state of our industry and our careers. I urge you to remember how hard you worked to break into this business -- and help others on their journey. If you'd like to support the good work of E4 Youth, please go to e4youth.org/donate.
I'm pleased to report that I delivered a check for $1,280 to Carl Settles, the founder of E4 Youth. I may not have hit my goal, but you do what you can. And life is more fun when you make good things happen with good people.