On having a minority for every occasion

On having a minority for every occasion

Man Who Has It All_1Awareness of the lack of diversity (racial, gender – the list goes on) in certain aspects of business (and life, really) has now gone mainstream to such an extent that it’s being parodied and mocked on social media.

First we had the genius Man Who Has It All on Twitter and Facebook, sharing such gems as:


Is it REALLY possible for men to juggle kids, housework, lack of sleep, dull skin & the first signs of ageing hair?


CONGRATULATIONS to all male EU leaders for getting there on merit alone. Very well done all of you.

Man Who Has It All_2

And then last week, a satirical website offering “token minorities” for hire – to sprinkle diversity into marketing material or a conference panel – went viral.

Rent-A-Minority lampoons the tech and media industries its founder says pay lip-service to the notion of diversity without making any meaningful changes.  The site was created by Arwa Mahdawi,  who works for an advertising firm in New York. She is half-Palestinian and half-English and told the BBC that she created the site because she was tired of seeing companies making superficial gestures to promote diversity.

“It’s very frustrating when you’re a minority yourself, because while you’re facing institutional hurdles, all the talk of diversity means a lot of people think you’re benefitting from positive discrimination,” she says. “What actually triggered me to set up the site was someone asking me – in a very matter of fact way – if being brown and female was an advantage in advertising, which is absolutely ridiculous.”

She also says that in her view, the problem is particularly pronounced in the technology and media industries. While companies’ marketing materials may feature a perfect ratio of minority faces, their boards of directors is often another story.

RentAMinority images
(c) RentAMinority

Mahdawi says she hasn’t had a genuine enquiry from any businesses yet, but has been contacted by a handful of individuals who may have missed the point, and want to register as minority guests, keen to speak at future conferences.

As with Man Who Has It All,  the spoof is so near to the truth that it’s quite painful. How long must we wait until the problem dissolves so that there’s nothing to parody and that we also don’t need the Lean In library of photo images, curated with Getty Images to give picture options which don’t play to the oh-so-familiar Woman Laughing at Salad trope?




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