Eliminating Investment Inequalities In The Media And Creative Supply Chain

The racial injustice issues over the past year have heightened interest and action from the advertising industry in supporting diverse companies in the media and creative supply chain.  Many agencies and marketers have publicly stepped up to express support, make commitments, and take action. 

ANA has been proactive on this issue from many angles – our CMO Growth Council, Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), and our work on supplier diversity.  

The following are ten imperatives outlined in the new ANA report, “The Growth of Supplier Diversity.” 

--A strong supplier diversity program helps ensure that a company’s suppliers reflect the communities it serves. Forty percent of the population is currently multicultural. More than half of births in the United States are now to multicultural women. A company’s media and creative supply chain should also reflect that diversity. 

--Procurement should have a key role. Procurement can help administer the supplier diversity strategy, establish/maintain relationships with diverse suppliers, bring internal groups together, and track/measure progress. I’ve heard this referred to this as “inclusive sourcing.” 



--The top challenge in supplier diversity for marketing/advertising is finding diverse suppliers. The ANA and AIMM have curated two resource lists to help: (a) Certified Diverse Suppliers and (b) Suppliers Serving Predominantly Multicultural and Diverse Audiences, Non-Minority Owned and/or Non-Minority Certified. Both are updated regularly with details at

--Another key challenge in supplier diversity for marketing/advertising is providing visibility to opportunities to recommend diverse suppliers. It is generally the role of procurement to work with their internal stakeholders to identify opportunities to recommend diverse suppliers. Companies should minimally follow the “rule of one” — including at least one diverse supplier in every RFP, if relevant.

 --Some diverse-owned businesses are certified by organizations including the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC); some are not. For some marketers, that certification may be a requirement for doing business. I heard one marketer say, “Certification authenticates that a supplier is who they say they are and removes the onus on the marketer to do that.” To maximize business opportunities, suppliers should be certified. At the same time, the industry should work together to help make the certification process easier (and less of a barrier) for suppliers.

 --For many companies, media is their most significant marketing/advertising investment. Yet finding diverse media suppliers has been a particular challenge, as the pool of diverse owned (and/or certified) media companies is small. Marketers are encouraged to expand their criteria when sourcing suppliers to include certified diverse suppliers, suppliers that are diverse-owned but not certified, suppliers that are diverse-operated but not diverse-owned, and/or those suppliers that target diverse segments but are not diverse-owned or operated.

--There is clearly the need for further development of diverse-owned media. Industry participants — including trade associations, marketers, and agencies — should use their resources to encourage and promote such development.

--Increasingly, marketers are asking their agencies to be diverse and have the agency staff servicing its business mirror that of the U.S. population or the marketer’s customer base. In general, gender diversity at agencies is strong overall, but we still hear that the presence of women in senior leadership roles, especially creative, is limited. Ethnic diversity is still challenging. Consider “the whole package,” including agency plans for recruiting diverse talent, training programs, affiliations, and even production initiatives. Marketers must also look internally at the diversity of their teams and track and improve their progress.

--Supplier development plans are important. Supplier development plans are growth and/or improvement plans specific to a diverse supplier supporting a business, and may include financial, time, and/or mentoring investment by a company. Some marketers are even stepping up to help diverse suppliers become certified. It’s not enough to simply spend money with diverse suppliers. Rather, marketers should invest in the resources to help develop those suppliers to be successful.

--Perhaps most importantly, marketers need to be open to doing business differently when working with some diverse suppliers. For example, they may need to add new people to their teams, invest more time in supplier relationships, relax payment terms, and look beyond conventional metrics. For the latter, be open to conversations with diverse suppliers on ways to evaluate a partnership. Marketers are encouraged to think beyond scale and reach for their supplier diversity programs and instead consider the importance of audience engagement and relevance. 

This industry conversation has been good.  It’s time to turn the talk into even greater action.  

Our just-released paper – “The Growth of Supplier Diversity” – is available as a resource to all at

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