Agencies Make Plans to Face Diversity Issues
In a move to avoid embarrassment during Advertising Week, several Interpublic and WPP agencies, have promised to set goals for increasing black representation at their firms and signed agreements with the City of New York that call for the agencies to provide reports on hiring, promotion and retention and to develop recruitment programs. The City's Human Rights Commission has plans to hold hearings beginning September 25 at which agency executives would have to testify to their company's position in the area of diversity.
According to the Human Rights Commission Chair Patricia Gatling, African American make up one quarter of the city's population. That's is sharp contrast to findings by the Commission that just two percent of agency upper management are black. Of 8,000 employees looked at in the industry by the Commission, 22 percent make over $100,000 in contrast to 2.5 percent of African-Americans.
Omnicom is conspicuously absent from these agreements saying they are crafting their own internal effort towards increasing diversity at their agencies. The agency plans to finance its own diversity program associated with Medgar College.
Ever the touchy subject, the lack of diversity could stem from any number of areas. Perhaps agencies really aren't recruiting heavily enough. Perhaps, as on ad exec has pointed out, there's far more money to be made at an early career stage on Wall Street or at a Fortune 500 company. Why toil as a lowly agency employee, not even making rent money, when one can make 3-4 times that in most other industries? Perhaps there truly is conscious or unconscious racial profiling going on to protect the old white boy's club. It's unclear but now seems to be the time to hit the issue head on.