It’s Time for Ad Agencies to Get Serious About Diversity

While Caucasians can sympathize with minorities and understand the oppression that follows being a person of color, they have not experience the same issues that African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other races have faced first hand. This matter is prominent in many industries, but is especially significant in the field of advertising, which is extremely lacking in racial minority. Although we can be wary of this issues, it takes diversity of race in the workplace to portray a realistic image in the world to consumers. So why is the Ad industry lacking in diversification if most of the U.S. population is extremely diverse? Could we be ignoring virtue ethics, focusing on what makes the individual firm ethical versus doing the right thing?

In a 2010 census highlighting the growing importance of minority consumers, it was shown that over 50 million Latinos, 40 million African-Americans and almost 15 million Asians were consuming in the U.S. alone. Nine million of these people identified themselves in the category of more than one race, yet the majority of advertising agencies lack racial diversity within their companies. Of the 959,000 sales and marketing managers, 5.9 percent were African-American, 5.1 percent Hispanic and 5 percent were Asian.   Ad agencies are not creating a balance between the two extremes, which are excess and deficiency in hiring minorities, leaning toward inadequacy of variation in color.

As I look around my advertising and PR classes, it is clear that there is plenty of diversity. Could it be that these companies are simply not hiring enough minorities? According to an article in Ad Age, hiring is only part of the problem. The main issue is failure to retain minority talent due to lack of an encouraging environment.

Rob Norman, CEO of WPP’s Group M North America, said diversity hiring has taken up a major role which demands a great deal of time. In fact, it requires a full-time diversity recruiter. While you can recruit a diverse staff, you have to create an attractive environment under which those people are comfortable to work in, which is not always easy. Norman explained that the hardest aspect is making people aware that the industry exists and is open to a broad range of talents for people to seek out.

Going back to the 2010 census, a major turning point was represented in advertising, the growth of minority consumers and an importance to represent that diversity in the industry itself. The report showed this was broader than an ethical issue, but affects the state of the business. Consumers cannot be easily reached by an industry saturated in white males.

Not only is it negative for advertising to lack racial variety; it doesn’t reflect a realistic sample of the population. To lack diversity in an industry that largely affects how people view a company, or even society, is promoting the power of white male privilege. This makes the advertisement unrelatable, which really is not the best for selling a product. If the point of advertising is to have a successful campaign, these firms may want become more divergent.





Bush, Michael. “Sorry State of Diversity in Advertising Is Also a Culture Problem.” Advertising Age News RSS. N.p., 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. <;.

Colorful People. N.d. Diverse Education. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. <;.

Costa, Chloe Della. “How to Fix the Ad Industry’s Diversity Problem.” IMedia Connection. N.p., 20 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. <;.

Vega, Tanzina. “With Diversity Still Lacking, Industry Focuses on Retention.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 Sept. 2012. Web. 26 Feb. 2016. <;.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s