Marketing Orgs More Diverse Than Ever, But What About Their Media Mix?

The good news is that America's biggest marketing organizations have grown much more diverse in terms of their ethnic composition in recent years. The bad news is, compared with the overall U.S. population, they still index primarily white.

That is among the findings from the just-released 2024 edition of an annual diversity report published by the Association of National Advertisers, which shows nearly a third (31.3%) of the 88 ANA member companies reporting are comprised of ethnically diverse staff. That compares with 42.2% of the U.S. population, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

And while the senior-most marketing executive positions -- CMOs and their equivalents -- still are vastly more white than their overall organizations, they have also made the greatest gains over the past half-dozen years that the ANA has been tracking it (see chart above).



Ethnicity aside, the study shows that women continue to dominate both the overall organization as well as CMO positions, in ANA member companies.

In terms of sexual orientation, heterosexuals represent a dominant 91% of marketing organizations.

Among ethnic groups, Hispanics/Latinos and mixed-race populations have made the greatest strides in terms of representation, while others have essentially held their place (see below).

The ANA's latest report makes the same recommendations for recruiting and retaining diverse talent that it has made in previous editions.

So what is the practical application of this new data from a media planning and buying perspective?

Well, for one thing, I believe culture is one of the most powerful forms of media neutrality -- or not -- when it comes to making decisions about media.

And while the ANA's membership diversity tracking reports are a good start -- as well as numerous keynotes, panel discussions and reports advising more diverse planning and buying orientation -- when push comes to shove, I am hearing that not a whole lot has changed in terms of the media supply chain.

While diverse media -- both in terms of ownership and audience segmentation -- are getting their feet in the door more easily these days, many tell me that it's still a lot of lip service, and that they are not necessarily getting on the buy list. Or if they are, it's mostly just token shares of overall media budgets.

In fact, the ANA found as much in one of its own studies, released nearly a year ago, which found nearly a three-to-one disparity among ANA members expressing "interest" in a more diverse media supply chain vs. the amount of investment they are actually making.

I hope to see an update of that study this year, because it will be interesting to benchmark over time.

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