ARTICLE BY MIKE HALL

By Published on .

Everyone in the advertising industry talks about diversity in the workforce -- we gotta have it. I don't argue with them.

Yet most people will tell you that diversity is necessary because creating work relevant to various segments of the population requires a business like ours to have a workforce that reflects the greater population. True, yes. But the value of diversity goes beyond that.

To suggest that only Asians can talk with relevance to Asians, or African-Americans to African-Americans, is like saying that only men can advertise effectively to men. The insights are necessary, but a diverse workforce gives us much more than relevant insights. It adds the broadest base of talent and greatest competitive advantage for our clients and their brands.

It's simple, really. Leo Burnett Co. is in the idea business, so it is incumbent upon us to enhance our talent pool to the greatest possible extent. And it is the power of that work--the strength of that idea--that ultimately connects a brand to its consumer.

Let's face it; within the diverse cultures in America there is a vast pool of talent that is generally underrepresented in the workplace.

The agencies that tap into it will be the ones that generate the smartest and most creative work because they will have access to the most comprehensive points of view. They will have windows to the entire market -- the obvious and not-so-obvious realities.

This can only translate to good things for clients.

For most of us, building brands is our purpose and our mission -- it's what clients pay us to do. Consequently, we have an obligation to our clients to bring the greatest breadth and depth of resources to their businesses. It's impossible to sincerely and successfully pursue that objective without also seeking diversity in the talent you hire.

Mr. Hall is exec VP-director of corporate planning for Leo Burnett Co., Chicago.

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