Who's afraid of equality?

Afraid of equality?

It’s the end of October. Black history month in the UK is drawing to a close and advertisers around the country are safely turning to an easier event on the calendar, Halloween.

We really do live in frightening times.

This year, adland's two most famous Black History Month contributions have come from Loreal and Dove; beauty brands who were not actively participating at the time.

CCO of M&C Saatchi Justin Tindall is bored of diversity but yet appeared to be unaware of his own company’s list of HR diversity initiatives until he was emailed them to copy and paste into an apology letter until he had to… well... copy and paste them into an apology letter.

Yesterday a friend posted a celebration of Bodyform showing real blood in their sanitary pad test on Insta, and had the head of design at 101 reply ‘bore off’ on her post. Public trolling from a 'head of' is pretty worrying behaviour.

The thing I’m frightened by most is the amount of cynicism being levelled against diversity initiatives. It seems to me that a lot of this response comes from fear from two sources.

1. Fear of change

It's natural to find change uncomfortable. But discomfort turns to fear for those at the top of their game who worry that if they were starting out in the current climate, they may not have made it to where they are. Are you afraid that 'diversity is killing creativity', or are you afraid of equal opportunities?

Let’s be real. The commonplace assertion that straight white men are endangered is frankly lazy. But lazy leaders (of all genders, races and sexual orientations) may well be at risk.

2. Fear of exposure

The 3% conference is happening this week, where Cindy Gallop will be encouraging all women who have experienced sexual harassment in advertising to come forwards. She's asking agencies to support them - to help them to fight their fear. Diversity initiatives like this give a voice to those who were previously too afraid to speak up. For all businesses who participate, this is a risk.

Exposing the history of individual interactions that they may not have been aware of will be hard in the short term but it will also ultimately pay off. Better culture always has bred better creativity. So this should only truly frighten the people who have previously taken advantage of other people's fear.

Happy Halloween.

By Elle Graham-Dixon, strategy partner at BBH London. This article originally appeared on linkedin.com