Justin Tindall: my 'bored with diversity' comment was wrong

M&C Saatchi creative chief Justin Tindall apologises for his recent comment in Private View about being "bored of diversity being prioritised over talent" in a response to Caitlin Ryan's critical letter.

Dear Caitlin

Firstly, I would like to apologise to you and everybody else who has taken unintended offence at my Private View.

The binary wording of that particular statement was wrong. Which is particularly poor when you consider that I am supposed to be at the sharp end of the communications business. 

Your perspective on building a career in a male-dominated creative environment is both sobering and humbling.

As such, I would like to take this opportunity to stress that it was absolutely not my intention to undermine the diversity agenda in any way whatsoever. In fact, the opposite is true.

As I have recently explained to my agency, the frustration that I feel around the term diversity, particularly when it is used in isolation, is provoked by a deep sense that ad agencies continue to prioritise predictably short-term solutions to what is a long-term issue. A long-term issue that requires long-term strategies to maintain and cultivate our industry’s strength and depth of talent.

Until we treat it as such, we compromise any hope of achieving meaningful diversity. Diversity that furthers talent and enables us to produce the best work possible. It’s why we have a Diversity Group here at M&C Saatchi. Why I’m working with them to help move the dial in a meaningful way. Why I’m challenging the agency’s "grad" scheme - do you really need a degree to excel in an advertising agency? And why I helped conceive and initiate the Creative Circle Foundation – a fee-free, one-year creative advertising course aimed exclusively at people from as varied, underprivileged and diverse a background as possible. 

This is an issue which is very close to my heart and, as much as ad agencies might wish there was, there is no quick fix. Believe me, I’ve sat in white male-dominated boardrooms in enough agencies to know that this is an institutional issue; tick box, get headline, move on. 

Given all of the above, the fact that I have so clearly failed to communicate my point of view to you, my colleagues and the wider industry will be a constant source of regret.

Please accept my sincere apologies.

Justin Tindall is chief creative officer at M&C Saatchi

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