It’s hard to find minorities. So why not just rent them?
A new side project by a partner at ad agency Cummins & Partners, called RentaMinority.com, is a satirical website that will help people organizing an awards show jury or a conference panel find themselves a minority to bolster diversity. Tagline: “Get ethics with our ethnics.”
From the site:
“Suddenly you’re being called out on Twitter and you need to look not-racist and not-misogynist fast. Actually doing something meaningful to disrupt institutional inequality would be way too much work; so why not just Rent-A-Minority instead?”
The site lets people “sign up as minorities” in an “Uber for skin color/gender/sexuality/religion” kind of way as well. It also pokes fun at minority for minority’s sake: “Your minority-ness must be evident in photographs,” reads the criteria. “So we’re not interested in anyone from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background. When it comes to disabilities we are really only interested good-looking people in wheelchairs.”
Arwa Mahdawi, a partner at Cummins & Partners in New York, started the website she said she saw a niche opportunity in “the convergence of two trends: the lets-talk-about-diversity economy and the on-demand economy.” The result is an “idiot-proof” service that will help people avoid the all-too-predictable conference booking cycle: Fill up with white men, trigger Twittter outrage, scramble to fix the problem.
It’s an educational tool, too. The site features an FAQ on why Mahdawi is tackling racial or gender tokenism that she says is particularly rife in tech and media. While corporate websites may play up diversity, in reality few of them walk the walk. The site also features non-satirical ways to increase actual diversity in your workplace and at your events. “On a serious note, I’m hoping this starts a conversation about just how dumb our industry’s approach to diversity still is,” said Mahdawi.
While obviously a joke, the site does reflect a sad state of affairs in the agency world. According to numbers crunched by the New York City office of the Comptroller, racial disparity is 38 percent worse in the ad industry than the overall market. And Black college grads working in advertising earn 80 cents for every dollar that their white counterparts do. And according to the 3% Conference, only 11 percent of creative directors are women.
The frequency with which one woman shows up to accept an award accompanied by a gaggle of men is alarming, and has been documented through Tumblrs like TooManyGuysOneGirl. And there are still panels at events about diversity in the ad industry that feature no black people.
Of course, it’s not just advertising Mahdawi hopes to tackle: She says she, as a minority, is also available to rent for the next tech conference.