Digital marketing is one of the most unforgiving industries for people of color and it’s 100% due to the culture. Companies are often guilty of nepotism, favoritism, and straight-up unethical practices. Black employees in digital marketing are VERY observant. We see everything because we often are riddled with imposter syndrome. It’s very difficult for us to feel like we belong in this space. Especially with some of the terrible business practices many agencies have. If your company is guilty of any of these, your black employees definitely know. You’re also very likely to lose your top talent and you kinda deserve it.
Nepotism and Favoritism
Quality of work should be valued over silly things like having hobbies in common. Employees should not be punished because they aren’t related to someone in the company or don’t share your interests. It’s silly that someone gets preferential treatment because they also watch Succession or Schitt’s Creek but it’s extremely real. Ask anyone who has been the digital marketing industry for more than three years and they will have an example of this.
Black employees see right through favoritism and can see that coworkers that share their boss’s interests receive passes on low quality work, turning in projects late, and other things that shouldn’t be tolerated. You are inadvertently punishing employees who have different tastes in music, tv shows, movies, and hobbies as you. By valuing common interests over work ethic, you compromise your reputation and the reputation of the company as a whole.
Avoiding favoritism can be hard but the solution can be quite simple. Employees should be judged by individual growth and output. If you are not able to separate friendship from work, you should not be in a managerial role.
You can believe, without a doubt, that your black employees notice EVERYTHING that your company is doing that may not be ethical. This could be the mistreatment of other employees, how much you pay contractors, lying to clients, etc. We take mental notes so that we can aware of how you may treat us under different circumstances.
We just want to do our jobs, get rewarded for exceptional work, and go home. We are not interested in office gossip and games. If you have a problem with office politics, it’s likely related to the two previous sections. Fix your internal issues to minimize these issues.
If this sounds like your current employer, get out! You will never receive the recognition or pay you deserve. There are agencies across the country that will welcome top talent with open arms. Find a workplace that will treat you and their clients with respect. Black digital marketers often feel stuck with terrible employers due to a lack of support and diversity in the industry. If we all speak up, we will be heard.