During Advertising Week this week at the 4A's Talent@2030 Conference today, the American Association of Advertising Agencies unveiled findings of two new surveys about diversity. One survey found
that 4As members reported, not surprisingly, the industry has not done enough to improve diversity within its ranks, while another showed that consumers, thankfully, believe strides have been
made in the portrayal of diversity in ads during the past five years.
When asked how the ad industry is doing when it comes to hiring diverse professionals, nearly half of respondents said the industry is terrible (20%) or not great (29%), and a quarter of respondents said it is mediocre. Approximately half of respondents said they believe agency culture is still discriminatory, but that the discrimination is not as overt as it used to be. More than 60%
of respondents agreed somewhat or totally that advertising agencies used to be more racist than they are now.
Of the findings, 4As President Nancy Hill said: "The ad industry must do more to hire diverse professionals who will create work that reflects our diverse consumer base; there is a very real appetite for that work. We've made some progress, but we have a lot more to do to make agencies a place where anyone can thrive, and everyone is represented. Next time we field a study like this, we'd like to see closer to 100 percent of respondents noting they've seen improvements in diversity at agencies."
In other findings, respondents didn't feel ethnically diverse professionals are given the same opportunities as white male employees: 20% responded that the advertising industry is terrible at this, while 28% said not great, and a quarter said mediocre. "Differently abled" employees didn't fare much better. Seventeen percent said the ad industry is terrible about giving disabled employees the same opportunities as white male employees, while 29% responded that it's not great, and 28% responded that it is mediocre.
A second study fielded by the 4As and research partner SSRS analyzed consumers' opinions about diversity in ads and showed that the vast majority of respondents agreed advertising itself has become more diverse in the past five years (81%). Seventy-four percent believe ads should reflect America's diversity in a realistic way, and two-thirds of respondents (64%) believe advertising should ensure that Americans of all ethnicities are portrayed.
When asked about brands that feature diverse people as part of their marketing strategy, 71% of respondents approve, as long as the diversity does not appear to be a gimmick. Sixty-one percent of respondents ages 18-34 were more likely to agree that they would like to see more advertising that features diversity and to agree that this type of advertising makes them think more favorably about the brand-- compared to 49 percent of respondents ages 35 to 54, and 49% of respondents older than 55. Furthermore, 60% of respondents in the 18-34 age range agree or strongly agree that brands that feature diverse people in their ads is something they would like to see more of.