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Ad Club of NY 'Imparts' to Find Diverse Talent
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Diversity in advertising has crept into the news again. The gorilla in the room continues to make noise as everyone tries to ignore it.

There's been some progress, though.

A quote in the source article notes that the advertising industry has actually done a decent job improving its diversity (mainly African-American, Latino, and Asian) amongst its entry-level and mid-manager ranks. But getting and keeping that talent in the executive ranks continues to be a challenge.

The New York Times quoted some startling numbers when it comes to the minority populations in the communications industry. For example, according to a 2011 U.S. Labor Department report done by its Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 1% of African-Americans are employed as advertising and promotions managers, compared to 9.6% of Hispanics and 2.3% of Asians. Those percentages come out of a population of 78,000 people. From a bigger pool comprising 959,000 marketing and sales managers in the U.S., only 5.9% were African-American, 5.1% were Hispanic, and 5% were Asian.

We remember seeing an argument about how the agency and industry makeup reflects that of America's. With these numbers, that argument doesn't hold up.

The Ad Club of NY is trying to change those numbers. From a $700,000 investment raised largely from donations, the club will start an initiative called "Impart," which will strive to promote, attract, retain, and train minority professionals in the marketing and advertising world. It will mainly use the funds to help programs that target minority advertising professionals, like AdColor.org, and an advertising program at Howard University.

Will it work? Time will tell. We talked about this before, but we think it cuts deeper than education programs and access — even though those elements are part of the problem. It's the culture. It's the lack of role models. It's the chicken or the egg issue. Yes, minority talent is needed, especially in the executive level, but not one of these people have seen someone they look like be successful in those positions. It seems simple, but it is a hard mental block to overcome.

We hope it works. We'd love to write more about the success of minority recruitment in advertising. We're starting to sound like a broken record.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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