February AdCast; Advertising Insight on industry diversity

February’s AdCast centered on the topic of diversity and featured D. Shenell Reed, MBA, Communications Officer for Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation, Patrick Mantiega, publisher of La Gaceta and Angelette Aviles, is the principal of America’s Marketing & Graphics.

We concluded the show with an Advertising Insight discussion about the sobering statistics around minority employment in Tampa’s advertising industry as well as the industry as a whole.

The segment focused on an Ad 2 diversity survey during the 2009 TBAF ADDY Gallery Night and an article in the December Adweek titled The Minority Report.

The survey found a surprisingly low Hispanic employment level in Tampa Bay, considering the size of the population segment.

A question of whether the advertising industry was doing its part to hire individuals from diverse backgrounds had these two responses.

“It has more to do with the applicant base”

“Yes, if anything they (agencies) are concentrating too much.”

The article featured numerous quotes and figures related to the track record of the industry, most of which we were not able to cover in the segment.

Cyrus Mehri, the civil rights lawyer behind several landmark racial discrimination suits is now targeting the advertising business.

“I’ve yet to see an industry that has such a consistent record of indifference to minority involvement. It has a history of purposeful discrimination. They’ve been on notice a long time, but they just go through the motions and allow a discriminatory climate to continue. They’re real laggards, and it’s hard to understand why.”

Other quotes/figures:

  • USA Today recently dubbed the ad industry “a poster child for a dearth of diversity.”
  • [D]ata suggest that some shops have merely donned a fig leaf… doing pro bono work for minority causes, but still hiring only those who look like them.
  • In eight years the DiversityInc Magazine list of Top 50 Companies for Diversity has never included an advertising agency.

Sanford Moore, who brought a complaint to New York’s human-rights commission that resulted in 15 agencies committing to changes had what I felt was a very stinging quote.

Madison Avenue is one of the last places where undereducated whites can still make big money.

We closed the segment on the question of what we can do as an industry and trade organization and I think we agreed that we might need to take a more critical look at where we are rather than simply tout that we are aware of diversity without discussion of the facts.

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