LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Minority-hiring issue stirs up debate

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RE: "Omnicom flies solo on diversity" (AA, Sept. 11). On the one hand, Omnicom has pledged money to a traditionally African-American college. That's good. Does it mean that Omnicom will have its agencies pursue an active recruitment policy from this very school? I seriously doubt it!

On the other hand, when did poor diversity/minority-hiring practices in the advertising workforce suddenly become about African-Americans only? Did I miss something?

It was my understanding that these conglomerates were being scrutinized for having failed (once again) to improve their minority-hiring and promotion practices.

My understanding of the definitions of "minority" and "diversity" transcends "African-American" ... or maybe I'm just daft.

I've been working in the advertising industry for more than 20 years. Never once have I had to bring my ethnicity (Hispanic) to the table in order to get hired or promoted-that would actually be an insult to me. I've worked hard and have earned every bit of my success. Did I meet bigots along the way? Of course. They were merely obtuse individuals who should be pitied for their lack of intellectual responsibility.

It is disturbing and, yes, sad to see that the more things seem to change the more they seem to stay the same.

Mayrah Rocafort-Mercado


Hispanic DM Solutions

San Antonio

I didn't know that getting a job at one of New York's best advertising agencies was a "human right." With competition as keen as it is, no company can afford to reject talented people. This is especially true in the ad business. If discrimination has occurred, then hire a lawyer and file suit. Otherwise, this appears to be more of an inquisition than an investigation. If the Human Rights Commission wants to play hardball, as they appear to be willing to do, then Madison Ave. should remind the mayor that New York isn't the only place where space can be rented to ply our trade.

Dan Porrevecchio


Porrevecchio Advertising

Kansas City, Mo.

This whole so-called issue is simply ridiculous! Any agency, no matter how big or small, as a private company operating in a free market, should have the solemn right to select and hire its employees based on talent, skills and qualification and not on skin color!

Actually, what the commission requests is much more racist in its core-as it will mean that, for example, a white copywriter or creative director with a better portfolio or more appropriate experience should be neglected in favor of a black candidate just because of a "minority quota." Such a quota would be understandable for government and city jobs, but for the private sector? How about Wall Street then? How about Silicon Valley?

And how about the percentage of black students in Ivy League colleges? Or how about a "white-player quota" on NBA basketball teams?

I, for example, am Bulgarian-or, to put it another way, an "East-European American." English is not even my native language. Despite my background, portfolio and references, I found it extremely difficult to land a job in the American advertising industry until a small Chicago agency came out brave and decided to give me a try.

But according to the approved labeling system, I must be labeled "white/Caucasian" and not a minority "Bulgarian-American." Now is that fair?

By the way, do you ever wonder how many white vs. black candidates apply for each top agency position? Of course, when 90% or more are white, the end result would be quite obvious. And nobody should complain about it.

Milko Stoyanov

Creative director

Graziano, Krafft and Zale


I understand that many people feel as if the Human Rights Commission is wrongfully targeting certain agencies, but as an educated, articulate minority working in advertising, I can tell you that it is very hard to find an agency that can look past the stereotypes that exist for minorities. I applied to quite a few agencies after I graduated, and I only got phone calls from a couple-and I graduated magna cum laude from the advertising/communications program at Florida International University. At many agencies, it seems as if the number of minorities can be counted on one hand. I think the commission is just trying to create equal opportunity for all those people out there who are equally qualified to work in the advertising industry. What's so wrong about that?

Jihan Drummond

Assistant media planner

Zimmerman Advertising

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Pushing off the diversity hearings is a disappointment to say the least. The unfortunate truth is that unless companies are publicly embarrassed about their diversity efforts-or rather, lack thereof-very little will change. Most agencies will do the bare minimum to comply, which amounts to little more than window dressing. So once again, agencies get to dodge a bullet.

Based on this "agreement," I think the industry is going to be having the exact same discussion 10, 15 or 20 years down the road.

Mariama Todd

Strategic pricing manager

Meredith Corp.

New York

Texas doesn't need any more messing

When one considers that Texas gave this country both George W. Bush and Tom DeLay, the reason we shouldn't "mess with Texas" is obvious: It's messed up enough already.

Rich Vinsen

VP-creative director

Doner Advertising

Southfield, Mich.

Overlooked in the Pepsi Hall of Fame

RE: "Pepsi's Hall of Fame" (Point, Sept. 4). As an executive search consultant in consumer goods, I read with interest your Pepsi-alum article that highlighted some of the great people who worked there. But I noticed a glaring absence in the lineup: You did not mention Brian Swette, the former exec VP-chief marketing officer of Global Pepsi Cola who joined the company in the mid-1980s and had a notable 17-year career there. In 1998, Swette left and joined a little tech company called eBay as VP-marketing, where he rose to the post of president of the game-changing company. While I can't recite his many accomplishments over the years, he has been and still is a player. Currently, Brian is involved in a portfolio of business activities including that of nonexecutive chairman of Burger King's board, a board position on Ladders Up, close involvement with private-equity giant Texas Pacific Group and philanthropic endeavors with the Boys Club in South Florida.

Barbara Pickens


Pickens & Co.

New York
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