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Madison Avenue's Racial And Gender Diversity Issue Looms Large

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the racial and gender compositions of the major holding companies in the wake of a sexual harassment suit brought by a female employee against the CEO of J. Walter Thompson, who resigned last week. The Journal reports that government data indicate that African-Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented among the advertising and public relations industries, but that more granular data can be tougher to come by. "The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission collects demographic information annually from each company about its workforce in the U.S., including data on race and gender. But companies are not required to publicly disclose those filings.  Marc Bendick Jr., a labor economist and workplace discrimination expert who has studied the advertising industry, says the lack of women and minorities is quite clear."

In fact,  “'If you look at the face of the advertising industry in 1960s as portrayed on the program ‘Mad Men’ and the face of the industry today, they look shockingly similar,' said Mr. Bendick. For gender, WPP discloses global, companywide numbers. Women accounted for 54% of WPP’s total full-time employees and 31% of executive leaders in 2014. That’s relatively unchanged from 2005 when women accounted for 54% of total employees and 33% of executive directors."

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