Normally, I wouldn’t have had my radar too high on this issue, but as I read about the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center this weekend, it reminded me that all too often, we simply don’t, as a society, offer as much support to our veterans as they deserve.
Neither does the ad industry, apparently, as I learned flipping through Ad Age this morning.
In a letter to the editor, (I can’t find the letter online), David Esrati, owner of The Next Wave in Dayton, Ohio, writes of his frustration about the ad industry’s so-called diversity intiatives, which often overlooks disabled veteran status.
He has alluded to it before on his blog:
The Next Wave is a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business, with HUB (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) zone certification. If you are a big agency that’s doing work for the Government, those certifications are very important- it’s Federal law that 3% of your budget be allocated to working with SDVOB and there can be other requirements mandating HUB zone participation.
The Next Wave has been listed in CCR (the Federal data base for eligible contractors) for over 10 years. We have been called by exactly 6 different businesses over those years- either as a last minute effort to include us in a list of “possible subcontractors” in a bid (Leo Burnett for the Army recruiting contract- which went to McCann, and Burson Marsteller on an unnamed project) and a whole bunch of times by the diversity master of the moment at SBC/ATT. It seems that SBC/ATT has very high diversity goals- but very poor follow through.
With more and more soldiers returning from Iraq, we’re going to have millions of American soldiers with unique problems–and unique needs, both physical and emotional. Will the ad industry have any clue how to deal with them as either employees or as consumers?