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.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (7)     File: Agencies, Good, Policy     Sep-11-06  
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They've been promising to do something about this shit for fifty years and they've done fuck all.
Remember the great campaign Y&R did back in the fifties for the United Negro College Fund??? Headlines like... "What do you do if you ain't got rhythm? Very funny, 'cos if you remember Putney Swope, the only black management guy in the agency was the Music Director... In most cases, it still is!!!

Posted by: George Parker on September 11, 2006 05:40 PM

Why do so many people refer to the actions as being made to avoid embarrassment? Are we so convinced that our industry leaders are incapable of simply doing the right thing? Are the actions being made to avoid revealing the embarrassing lack of initiative industry leaders have taken? While they may not be stone-cold racists, their passive bias over the years has brought the same results that would have come from stone-cold racists. Let’s please stop giving them the excuse of avoiding embarrassment. An embarrassing lack of leadership is the true issue here. Agreeing to these initiatives doesn’t lessen the embarrassing behavior of our leaders.

Posted by: HighJive on September 12, 2006 12:41 AM

To your knowledge, Mr. Parker, Y&R's president is a black woman. I wonder if it's just another PR move by WPP. The fact is, advertising has been for decades a racist, sexist industry and there's little incentive for it to change. Why? Clients want people in their agencies to reflect their desired target audience, which is mostly urban, hip young men -and sometimes women- with lots of disposable income. And by watching 99% of advertising out there is not hard to imagine advertisers and agencies are not in the smartest business out there.

I'd say minorities know better than try to advance in that bastion of stupidity that is Madison Ave.

Posted by: Anonymous Latino on September 12, 2006 11:51 AM

AGENCY VP: "Hello, Ms. Client. Here's our new negro creative, whom we hired as part of our Advancement for Black People program."

BRAND MANAGER: "Oh great! Is he going to rap the presentation for us?"

Posted by: Sad but Possible on September 12, 2006 12:00 PM

Hey Anonymous Latino...
She was fired six months ago. She lasted barely a year. Y&R was, is and always will be a "Boys Club" The color of her skin wasn't an issue.

Posted by: George Parker on September 12, 2006 01:16 PM

Hey Omnicom:

Iceberg Slim called—said he wants his pimphand back.

Posted by: hadji on September 12, 2006 04:38 PM

“Thug nigga till the end—tell a friend, bitch!
Won’t change for no paper/plus, I been rich!”

—BBDO, DDB, Merkley + Partners and media shop PHD while refusing to committ to dviversity improvements (9/12/06)

Posted by: hadji on September 12, 2006 05:11 PM

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