‘Too young to be a good mother’: Jasmin Bedir and Marina Vasilieva on hiring diverse talent

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 17 April 2024

The advertising industry needs to create a more diverse and inclusive hiring process, according to industry leaders.

Ageism and sexism, despite much progress, are still issues to be solved, they say.

And phrases such as "I couldn't find a female director because…" and "you’re too old/young" are still often thrown around.

But what is actually happening is that diverse talents aren't given an opportunity.

A lot of women are not given an opportunity because they aren’t at the "problem" of a brief or they weren't the favourites of the CD or CCO, says Innocean Australia CEO Jasmin Bedir.

“We all have these biases and it takes deliberate effort to be aware of that, and to make sure we do the opposite,” Bedir told Mikhaila Warburton’s Creating Her Way podcast.

“Going out of your way, and try to make sure that you do give [diverse] people an opportunity, you'll be surprised at what happens because if we're only hiring people that have certain things in their CVs - their references would only end up with the same group of people, which means we're perpetuating the same stuff.

“I believe in affirmative hiring that you deliberately go nah, we need to balance this team here with different perspectives - so we need someone from a different suburb, a different geography, a different skill, we need a woman or we need that.”

Although often people think this way of hiring is discriminatory, Bedir says this is a way of levelling the playing field.

“I'm trying to get a diversity of thinking which commercially gets us to a better place and it's good for everyone,” Bedir said.

“But then again even in my position, I don't control all the hiring all the way down. So companies need to constantly repeat that is what they are looking for.

“We've got way more women now than the men in our creative department, which is really good.

“But yes, when it comes to that senior level, it's still difficult because these women don't exist anymore.”

The other problem the industry is tainted with is ageism.

And the clients are worse because they want the young cool kids because they are apparently cheap, says Bedir.

The problem the industry is facing with ageism is people aren't looking at a candidate for their experience, and the value that they are bringing to the table, people are looking at the way to define that person, says Marina Vasilieva, Airtasker global creative director.

“So your background, your ethnicity, your age, etc, whatever it may be, those kinds of factors come into play first and foremost,” Vasilieva said.

“They inform a really terrible set of biases that don't actually allow people to see through to what a person can contribute and bring to the table.”

Vasilieva has herself been on the receiving side of ageism discrimination.

“When I was interviewing with a really senior female executive at a client, during the interview process, she asked my age,” Vasilieva said.

“And I never think anything about my age, so I told her.

“She ended up saying something that stuck with me for a fair bit, which was ‘I think you're too young to be able to communicate to mothers (who are one of the target audiences) as you're not a mother and even if you were you would be too young to be a good proper one’.

“What I'm trying to say is that age bias is, unfortunately, still very pervasive, and we're seeing it happen. Even from inside brands and client side companies that are there to kind of support women that sometimes really don't.

“But my wealth of experience as a creative is my ability to actually talk to different demographics.

“I don't assume my bias and my background or my work, if there is a gap that I have, through my life experience, I'm going to go out there and speak to a customer or speak to appeal, or speak to somebody within the company who has that lived experience, because it's not up to me to speak on that for them.

“I'm here to learn and be curious and implement that through my work.

Listen here for the full episodes for Creating Her Way.  

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