What Were They Thinking?
Normally, I'm the kind of person advertisers hate. And if they don't hate me, it's only because they don't know that I have a remarkable ability to read a newspaper or magazine from cover to cover and never even notice the advertisements. Just like I can tune out the sound of my neighbor's lawnmower, or the annoying spiel I get when I'm on hold waiting for some service to answer my telephone call, or the background noise at a restaurant.
However, in the March 2020 issue of Nuclear News, the two-page spread on the inside cover caught my eye. It displays the slogan, "We are Westinghouse." It features 22 people (23 if you count the guy cut off at the right edge), all wearing AP1000 polo shirts. And only one of them is a woman!
That is about the same ratio of men to women that I faced when I was a freshman at MIT, and believe me, that was quite a few years ago! I had thought the world had changed a lot since my first year at MIT, but this spread made me wonder.
I did some digging, and I am happy to report that this photo doesn't seem to be representative of Westinghouse. Other photos show a higher representation of women. And the current leadership of Westinghouse includes 2 women who are executive vice presidents.
So why, then, did Westinghouse pose a picture with 23 men and one woman? And why did they select that shot to represent who Westinghouse is? What makes this even more puzzling is that this photo is being used as part of their recruiting strategy. What message does this send to potential job candidates? Or, for that matter, what message does it send to any member of the public who sees this ad?
Obviously, I can't answer these questions. Personally, I always place more importance on actions than on "eyewash," so the fact that they have women in their leadership means more to me than a photograph. Nevertheless, in this world, image and presentation mean a lot, and I find it hard to understand what motivated Westinghouse to choose the photo they chose as a representation of who they are. It could be a setback to them in their efforts to portray themselves as being at the cutting edge.