November 25th, 2016

Do Nigerian companies actually embrace diversity?

By Toni Aladekomo.

Everyone has an idea of what to expect when they walk into a bank; men in shirts and ties, women in formal outfits, as well and what everyone will agree are church shoes. On Friday, everyone wears trad and there’s a bit of variety – unless you’re like Ecobank who has their own branded Ankara for days like this. There’s nothing wrong with this though, is there? There needs to be a level of uniformity just to give customers the illusion of organization. The problem, however, lies in the sameness of people.


For each department, there are people who all probably went to similar schools, studied the same thing and have similar mindsets. You can look into different sectors and find this to be true. Every now and then, there is that one person who stands out. Sometimes there are two and they become friends and are labelled “the others”. This becomes a problem when ideas need to be formed. The same type of people gives you the same type of ideas. To get outside the box ideas, you have to introduce outside the box elements. Otherwise, there is limited opportunity for innovation.


But the same can’t be said for advertising agencies, right? The only advertising type is creative and creativity cannot be put in a box. It has no bounds. You think you’ve seen creativity and then it surprises you, yet again. You walk into an ad agency and you see all types of people right? Right! The problem is that this diversity has been formalized and is now suffering from the sameness that all other sectors suffer from. You walk into an agency and you have the guy with the dreads, the quiet guy whose mind exhales the greatest ideas but no one knows much about him. You have the standard loud guy who also has great ideas so you can’t let him go, there is the girl who does her work diligently who will thrive in any industry but not necessarily advertising. And then everyone else just falls into the sameness. This poses a problem. The same quality of work comes from all agencies in Nigeria. Very few people are setting standards and this is a result of the “agency type”.


It is important to determine if your agency or company suffers from this sameness. The type of sameness that stops new ideas from forming and continues to release the same type of work. Take a look at your organization and determine if change is needed.