Examining Diversity in Our Industry from the Inside Out

By ANA InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Examining Diversity in Our Industry from the Inside Out

"Progress willbe made on gender equality and diversity in the advertising and marketing industry," according to a bold new report just released by the Association of National Advertisers; Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) on the value of diversity and inclusion.  The analysis leads with a McKinsey study that indicated a "direct correlation between diversityin the leadership of large companies and ... measures of financial outperformance: and value."

At this week's Multicultural Marketing & Diversity Conference a presentation from ANA Group Executive Vice President Bill Duggan (pictured above) brought that report to life, resonating powerfully with the 700+ marketers in attendance.  In a moving presentation, Procter & Gamble's Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard reminded the audience that businesses have an opportunity -- and a responsibility -- to "be a force for good," and even P&G's much-cited efforts towards diversity and inclusion could be stepped up.

In a reminder to attendees, Sam's Club's Chief Member Officer Tony Rogers encouraged attendees to "make a conscious effort to surround yourself with people who look, think and act differently from you if you ever want to change your perspective."

That same theme echoed in the halls at last week's ANA Masters of Marketing conference, where Duggan captured this comment from Nydia Sahagún, Senior Vice President of Segment Marketing at Wells Fargo:  "One of the most important forces facing us today is the diversification of the marketplace.  The multicultural conversation has long been part of boardroom discussions yet today many are still behind.  Inaction comes at a cost and some brands are currently at risk."

As part of its charter to advance marketing excellence and shape the future of the industry, the ANA launched the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) to elevate multicultural and inclusive efforts in the marketplace.  Both Duggan and the report noted that: "To truly challenge ourselves to improve diversity/gender equality, then we need to face this squarely and accurately -- with real measurements.  We need to publicly track ourselves with real data from client-side marketers, agencies, publishers, media companies, researchers, suppliers and vendors.  We look to measure everything else in our industry, but when it comes to knowing whether we have diverse talent, such measure­ment -- at least what has been shared publicly -- it is lacking."  These insights started with the composition of the marketing industry via member companies themselves.

The ANA's findings showed that, of 747 client-side members, only 13 percent of CMOs and CMO-equivalents are diverse.  For example, three percent are African-American/black, despite being approximately 13 percent of the total population.  By gender, CMOs skew 55 percent male, compared to 45 percent female.  However, when the study examined the entire workforce at ANA member companies, gender skews heavily female.  And while ethnicities are better represented among their employees in general (see chart below), strides still need to be made -- especially among executive leadership.

Among the ANA's board of directors' member companies, an analysis of diversity among U.S. marketing employees showed that minorities were better represented in mid-level and entry-level positions, while senior level positions skewed about three-quarters white, as expressed in this chart:

The ANA did not exclude itself from scrutiny and vowed to improve its own composition.  The organization's 42 board members currently skews slightly female (22 women and 20 men), but the diversity is heavily Caucasian, with 32 white members, compared to five Hispanic, three African-American and two Asian members.

There is also a paucity of consistent data on sexual orientation or differently abled employees given levels of self-identification reporting.  However, two of the companies with CMOs on the board -- HP and Verizon -- showcased powerful case studies in the report which may help inspire the industry overall.

In the Verizon example, Chief Marketing Officer Diego Scotti (a MediaVillage/Jack Myers Knowledge Exchange Advancing Diversity Honoree) asked his 11 supporting agencies to report on the current state of their workforces -- by women and people of color -- and to provide an action plan to increase workforce and supplier diversity.  "In just two years, Verizon and its agencies have exceeded expectations.  Verizon also addressed the root of the diversity issue -- the recruiting pipeline -- with the launch of Verizon AdFellows, a first-of-its-kind eight-month fellowship program offering recent college graduates an integrated experience across advertising, media, experiential, PR and digital."

To encourage diversity and inclusion in the marketing industry, the ANA offered respondents an opportunity to identify steps that have helped their companies boost diversity within their own ranks.  Some of those actions include:  

• Have inclusive leadership embedded into all manager and executive training.

• Ensure senior leader sponsorship is in place to coach and develop diverse employees from day one.

• Create a mentoring program to pair individuals with leaders.

• Maintain a full calendar of events to recognize and celebrate diversity -- including Black History Month, Asian-American Heritage Month, Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, Veterans Day, Native American Heritage Month, Pride Month and International Women's Week.  In addition, create activities such as global webcasts, leadership panels and an annual Diversity Leadership Symposium.

• Conduct an annual employee survey to measure sense of belonging and valuing diversity.

• Benchmark programs and policies, with reporting of progress annually.

• Conduct focus groups around culture and diversity to understand the current marketing environment and issues important to the team.

• Offer unconscious bias training and require it for all talent acquisition to reduce biases in the hiring process.

Given his status as one of MediaVillage's Advancing Diversity honorees, it's not surprising that the ANA's Chief Executive Officer Bob Liodice would suggest that the industry overall should participate by contributing their diversity scorecard information which, the ANA promises, will remain completely confidential and be aggregated with other companies for reporting purposes.

Reflecting the stated need to "publicly track ourselves with real data from client-side marketers, agencies, publishers, media companies, researchers, suppliers and vendors" the report noted: "If we are going to truly challenge ourselves to improve diversity/gender equality, then we need to face this squarely and accurately -- with real measurements."

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