This really does matter.
Vicki Madden’s op-ed in today’s New York Times is worth a read. As she says, “In spite of our collective belief that education is the engine for climbing the socioeconomic ladder — the heart of the ‘American dream’ myth — colleges now are more divided by wealth than ever.”
Do only the wealthy have bright, inquisitive minds? I think not.
I am first generation college having grown up in a blue-collar, middle income family. As I graduated from high school earning a PhD was not something on my horizon. However, after an adventurous journey involving three prior careers – two of which involved the advertising industry – and four institutions of higher education, here I am. Yet today, for young people of modest means, the climb up the educational ladder is steeper, longer and fraught with many more challenges. In fact, from 1990-2012 there has been little change in the enrollment of students with less resources. Moving forward it looks as though little will change.
Successful advertising involves speaking to consumers with a resonant voice. How can we do this when the industry does not reflect the diversity of the American cultural landscape? (Nor does it reflect the diversity of the global cultural landscape.) Change must involve a serious commitment to hiring a diverse pool of talent. Change must also involve a commitment to getting behind educational opportunities for all. That, in fact, may be our next biggest challenge.