• John Walker

Diversity is Low in Advertising and Marketing and That’s a Problem



Our industry is not very diverse and that risks putting our teams out of touch with the society we claim to understand and be able to communicate with. Just 7% of marketing team members are Black and just 7% are Hispanic, acccording to a diversity report from ANA (Association of National Advertisers).

To put these numbers in perspective, 13% of U.S. citizens are Black and 18% are Hispanic. So our industry is woefully short of meeting even an average level of diversity. And this gap is getting wider as our population gets more diverse.


Diversity is good for business, according to McKinsey. Their research shows that “companies in the top quartile for gender and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.” So when we’re not diverse, our businesses don't perform as well.


But for advertising and marketing teams, I believe diversity is even more important because we claim to be the ones who understand the voice of the consumer-- the ones who can communicate in a way that connects. So if our teams are isolated islands of homogeneity, we’ll be out of touch and irrelevant.

How can we improve diversity?

The ANA report asked respondents how to address this issue and there were lots of suggestions including:


· Create mentoring programs.

· Train of leaders on the importance of diversity.

· Recognize and celebrate diversity

· Conduct employee focus groups around culture and diversity to understand the work environment better.


And of course, respondents also recommended new recruiting tactics to find and hire more diverse employee.

Marketing and advertising people have always had to adapt to rapidly changing tastes, trends and technology in order to stay relevant. We’re used to evolving. So let’s not ignore adapting to this next critical change in our industry- the need for greater diversity. It will just make us stronger.


This post was written by John Walker, Principal Consultant at J. Walker Marketing. Contact John to discuss your marketing challenges.

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