Surekha Ragavan
May 18, 2021

‘White supremacy is obvious in some client organisations’

Read anonymous quotes from Campaign’s diversity survey last year, and spare some time to take this year’s survey, which closes in two days.


Campaign Asia-Pacific and Kantar team up each year to produce a report on DEI and sexual harassment in the industry.  To do this, we need your help to answer an anonymous survey so that we can assess the degree of which organisations in the region have achieved in their pursuit of diversity and inclusion, whether it relates to gender, age, race, sexual orientation, mental and physical ability, or any other factor.

Last year, the anonymous responses we received were sobering to observe. Here are a few we picked out, which we’re sure many of our readers can resonate with. 

Hong Kong, male, 35-39:

Despite calls for diversity in the PR industry, majority of APAC and China agency heads are run by foreigners, there's a glass ceiling for Asians trying to reach senior management and gain the trust from the global heads. Global heads simply trust 'their people' who are most likely from the same country of origin, i.e. UK agency will have a British GM as the head of office in HK/China etc.

Australia, female, 50-55: 

In meetings, often talked over or opinions not heard, but when a male colleague repeats the same thing, everyone agrees and acknowledges the point being made.

Australia, female, 25-29:

I am a relatively young Asian woman in a predominantly white-male-led industry. Sometimes my ideas will be left on the backburner or not considered valid until an executive or male backs the opinion up, or takes the idea and runs with it. Oftentimes I'm viewed as subservient or quiet due to my race, age, and gender (combination of all three) and not traditional alpha male leadership material.

Singapore, male, 30-34:

My copy is often checked and vetted by my boss who is Australian. Sometimes, my copy is grammatically correct but is edited by my boss and ends up being wrong. I have to make an extra effort to prove that my copy is right. I believe there is a preconceived notion that my mastery of the English language cannot be better than a native Caucasian speaker. This applies to long-form content (press releases) and short-form content (social media posts).

Hong Kong, female, 35-39:

White supremacy is obvious in some client organisations. Better result usually if we ask Caucasian colleagues to do client servicing.

China, male, 35-39:

A lot of people just take your resume and they tend to find something similar with himself or herself and prefer those who share the similar experience with him or her, most of the people did not accept difference and diversities in him or her team...

New Zealand, female, 35-39:

I'm a female, so I feel a lot of males don't have as much respect for my opinions or expertise. Also, as a working mum, having presented to a client with a baby in my hand they disregarded me as actually working there (part of a long story, but safe to say they are no longer a client).

Singapore, female, 35-39:

People seem to think that Asian strategists aren't as capable at leading departments as Caucasian strategists that come from overseas countries like US, UK or ANZ.

India, male, 40-44:

India is a multilingual country. When I used to write well-crafted English ads, I was branded as a writer who couldn't command Hindi as a language. Also, I come from a linguistic minority in India, so people view my expertise differently.

Philippines, female, 50-55:

I was a speaker at a global conference in Europe. I was fitting my microphone behind the stage. Two white males who are the speakers after my talk, looked around then approached me. They asked me if I was assigned to put microphones on them. I felt like a stereotyped Asian woman who would be a default production assistant.

Pakistan, female, 30-34:

I only reported an account of harassment against another employee because there was proof—and it was dealt with but with a lot of delay and only when we threatened to write to higher authorities.

Hong Kong, male, 45-49:

They think that being Asian might be inferior compared to being white, partially because we can’t articulate ourselves as well as them in English.

Pakistan, female, 25-29:

I’m an associate creative director at the age of 26, and truly believe that my work ethic resulted in this role at such an early age, however people in the industry aren’t accepting of it because they let age or my physical appearance get in the way of that. Even when getting this promotion, my boss would often make remarks about my age or appearance.

Vietnam, male, 50-55:

We need to understand that the US race conversation is not applicable world-wide and that different conversations need to be had in different regions.

India, male, 30-34:

Senior business leaders [tend to] ask about pedigree of institute from where I have qualified. Without a premier institute in the equation, my ability is being judged and preconceived.

India, male, 30-34:

There is naturally lot of stereotyping between Northern and Southern part of India. People from southern part of India are considered geeks, vocal and not street-smart.

Hong Kong, female, 35-39:

Women will and are expected clean up after events. Men get away.

Singapore, female, 40-44:

As a woman of colour giving strategic advice to white, male leaders, I sometimes feel I have to prove my competence. I often feel like I'm perceived as an assistant and not a leader.

New Zealand, female, 56 or above:

Secondments, training opportunities and promotions are often given to people who look like the majority. While the company says all the right things, in practice it is a whole different playing field. Diversity and inclusion initiatives started two years ago and to date but it is still only tokenism at best.

Cambodia, male, 50-55:

Ageism within many industries. Instantly not considered in job applications despite wealth of experience.

Myanmar, female, 25-29:

I have great leadership and management skills, but because I am young, people assume I will not be suitable for the position. Also, I am often judged for my appearance. I have short hair and tattoos. As a woman, these traits are sometimes considered inappropriate for 'professional' spaces, even though they have absolutely no influence on my ability to do my job. I have to conform a lot in the way I dress, to make sure I look 'professional' in a 'feminine' way.

India, female, 30-34:

Despite having proven success, there's a propensity to favour older males in charge of situations. Abilities also get defined by looks. Having short hair, short height and not looking my age also often works against me in a professional setup because it's assumed that this source might be less credible. However, the exact same points when articulated by senior males at a later date are received with reverence.


Campaign Asia

Related Articles

Just Published

20 hours ago

IPG becomes first company to integrate Adobe ...

The IPG Engine is set to be integrated across their full spectrum of operations, providing a suite of services that span the entire content lifecycle, including creation, curation, assembly, personalisation, and measurement.

21 hours ago

Where is China’s gaming industry headed next?

A draft legislation was published in December outlining plans to restrict in-game purchases in a bid to curb “obsessive” gaming behaviour in China. Then it disappeared. What happens next?

21 hours ago

The rise of indies amid Japan's advertising oligopoly

Amid the vast expanse of Japan's advertising landscape dominated by giants like Dentsu, Hakuhodo and ADK, independents are mushrooming. These David-like contenders may lack the colossal budgets of their Goliath counterparts, but they wield a different kind of power—one fueled by strategy, resilience, and agility.

1 day ago

Dentsu bags Popeyes India's creative mandate

Account won post a multi-agency pitch