Perspectives: Diversity in Advertising, Javier Güemes

"I feel that as a society, we are still not comfortable accepting diversity as a reality."

 

Javier Guemes
Creative Director Orci
Tell us about who you are and what your job title is?
I’m Javier Güemes, and I’m the newest creative director for Orcí, a Hispanic-led agency based in Santa Monica.
What was the greatest obstacle you’ve had to overcome since you began working in advertising?
Trying to help people put action behind their thoughts, and helping them change their mindsets from being solely focused on execution, to prioritizing big picture thinking.
What is your opinion on the current state of diversity within the industry?
Diversity is in the midst of a very challenging moment. On one hand, diversity is natural in this country, a benefit that adds flavor to our melting pot society. But on the other hand, people tend to generalize and stereotype when they’re trying to address diversity, and end up missing an opportunity to be relevant.
What do you think causes agencies such difficulty in regard to attracting, retaining, and nurturing people of color?
It’s just a matter of mindset. I feel that as a society, we are still not comfortable accepting diversity as a reality. Instead, we see people of color and different
ethnicities as a “topic,” and not as “people.” A lot of agencies feel like they “need” to diversify their staff in order to be politically correct, instead of hiring people based on their talent and skills. The reality is that as a person of color, you feel it.
The advertising industry has for years been talking about its many diversity issues, what do you think a long-term solution could look like?
Honestly, I think this is going to be a slow process because it involves changing the way people think. The good news is that younger generations may be the key to overcoming this situation, and I’m truly hopeful. They are growing up in a society that is incredibly diverse, amongst peers that are colorblind. So it’s just a matter of time.
What is going on within your agency to improve diversity?
Embracing it. This is an interesting question because we are a Hispanic-targeted
agency that not only employs Hispanics, but also talented African American and Caucasian professionals. We know how important it is to embrace diversity without any distinctions. To expand on that, we also have people within our agency from different parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. We have people that were born and raised in different countries, as well as people that were born here. I can tell you the results are simply fantastic. You see it in the cultural insights that everyone provides, the richness of the language and the spectrum of ideas brought to the table. This way, you focus on what really matters: business solutions for our clients.
How do you plan to inspire the next generation?
By not making distinctions. People are people, and if you’re talented, there’s
always going to be a place for you within our agency. We love diversity, but we don’t think about it—it’s just natural for us. We do things that are inspiring and relevant for our audience everyday.

 

Javier Guemes
Creative Director Orci