Advertising business suffers from lack of diversity

Advertising business suffers from lack of diversity

A majority of media consumers don’t feel that they are represented in advertising. Only 41% in a US survey said they feel people of their type are shown in ads. This lack of diversity in ads is because the advertising industry as such is not diverse.

The advertising industry – across the ecosystem and at all levels  – is not representative which is a barrier to creating representative and inclusive content, according to a study by consultancy Deloitte that was assigned by Facebook to make it. The study is called Barriers to Representative Advertising.

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The study, that focuses on the US and Canada, says that while 100% of executives interviewed said that diverse teams are important to creating representative and inclusive content, only 19% of in-house and 23% of agency survey respondents reported that their leader almost always considers the demographic diversity of their team when developing content.

“There is a perception that current hiring practices, coupled with competition for diverse talent, make it difficult to increase representation. Focus group and interview participants said they rely heavily on networks or go back to the same target schools for prospective candidates.”

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Leaders agree that diverse teams are required to create representative and inclusive content, but the current lack of diversity within the industry makes it challenging to do so. A sustained, industry-wide effort to attract and retain diverse talent, especially in key leadership and decision-making roles, is needed to enable representation and inclusion in content, the report says.

The consultancy’s recommendations:

  • Develop industry-wide networks and guidelines to help identify and attract diverse talent
  • Create programming for students around careers in marketing and advertising, with a particular emphasis on schools that serve historically underrepresented communities
  • Release transparency reports by company with disaggregated representation data by level, and then set quantitative aspirational goals for increasing representation, driving advancement and retention—across the industry to drive conversation and accountability
  • Assess the workforce experience of different identity groups and review talent processes for equitable outcome

The study says that other explanation to why the ad business lacks diversity are:

  • Lack of leadership mandate. Some organizations lack a clear mandate and active support from their leadership to create representative and inclusive content.
  • Difficulty valuing long-term benefits. Marketing organizations are better equipped to understand short-term costs and potential risks than they are to measure the positive impacts of representation and inclusion on long-term business outcomes.
  • Agencies reacting to client direction. Without a mandate from their clients, agency leaders are not incentivized to invest in creating representative and inclusive content.
  • Lack of awareness of tools and resources. Individuals lack awareness of and access to the knowledge, skills, resources, and tools to create representative and inclusive content.
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