While there’s little research on the lack of women in creative roles, there’s even less on diversity issues. The sad truth is, advertising employs less than five percent people of color and then, you’ll find them largely working in the multicultural agencies not the general market shops. I admit this is an educated guess, because the industry will not release diversity data. I’m working to change that. With a faculty fellowship from Marquette’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I’ll be traveling to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami, this spring, to conduct ethnographic research and interviews within multicultural ad agencies and general market agencies.
Why does any of this matter?
It matters to me as a human being who wants equity and the opportunity for all. We need all voices to be heard so that advertising messages don’t perpetuate racism and sexism. It also matters to me as a practitioner who understands that diversity is good for business. A diversity of voices leads to better creativity and stronger ROI.
The lack of diversity in advertising is EXACTLY why Dove, today, made a major brand misstep. Showing Black women transformed into light Brown or White women is appalling. And why did it happen? I’ll bet my retirement account on the fact there were no people of color in the decision-making process nor were there any present as this went up the decision-making food chain. I also doubt there were not many women making decisions as it went up. Women and people of color are invisible in advertising management.
In short, the lack of diversity in advertising is not just bad for Black and Brown people and women, it’s bad for business. “Wake up advertising.”