Diversity is still an issue among marketers despite diversity initiatives. In a new study, minorities in advertising, marketing and other media industries found it “incredibly difficult” to break in and stay in the business. The most underrepresented groups are Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans.
The racial diversity breakdown among ANA members revealed about 7 percent are African Americans and 7 percent are Hispanic. The percentage increased marginally for Asian Americans at 11 percent.
The report “Chanting A More Diverse Pathway to Growth,” by the ANA Educational Foundation (AEF) interviewed new hires and students from racially diverse backgrounds. They pointed to four issues when it comes to inclusion. The first is “management disconnect.” Some respondents revealed they didn’t feel connected with their managers when it came to challenges they face as it relates to diversity. The report noted they lacked assurance saying they “often don’t trust them to share these experiences or perspectives for fear of ‘causing trouble’ and retaliation.”
Another aspect was “microaggressions,” where co-workers insulted their culture or intelligence and the respondents felt uncomfortable and helpless in how to deal with such situations. “Cultural Illiteracy” is another factor where the respondents felt uneasy because they didn’t want to cross the line and get past stereotypes. Finally, “Workplace Integration Dissonance,” was another area of concern for minorities. They didn’t feel confident talking about diversity because of fear of losing their jobs. Even when a conversation on culture came up, these respondents “carefully picked and chose their battles” for fear of being the only voice with a particular point-of-view.
“Contrary to what some may think, focusing on diversity and inclusion doesn’t come at the sacrifice of driving business—at NBCUniversal, we know that it enhances and improves our results,” said Craig Robinson, EVP and chief diversity officer at NBCUniversal.
The report states the industry needs to be held responsible when things go wrong—using H&M as an example of a brand that paid the price for missteps. To alleviate these issues, ANA’s Talent Foward Alliance is focusing on making marketing relevant to students, aiming to reconnect academia and the industry, recruit and actually retain talent and finally building a future for growth.
This report was a follow-up to a 2017 study “Bridging the Talent Disconnect: Charting Pathway to Future Growth,” which analyzed detachment between academia and the industry. This latest study—analyzing the same disconnect through a diversity lens—interviewed over 120 CMOs, ad agency executives, HR executives, line managers, university professors, deans, career counselors, new hires and college students between April and October of 2018.