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What: The ANA Educational Foundation has released the results of a study on efforts and difficulties around making the marketing talent pool more diverse.
Why it matters: Even though the marketing industry has come a long way on the inclusion road, only 13% of CMO positions are filled by people of color, signaling there are still long gaps between reality and achieving a diverse industry.

According to a new report by the ANA Educational Foundation, the marketing industry’s efforts to recruit a more diverse workforce are still not enough, as the overwhelming majority of the talent (87% of CMOs) is still predominantly white. The report, titled “Bridging the Diversity Disconnect: Charting More Inclusive Pathways to Growth,” touches on the various reasons why it’s essential to make the talent pool more diverse, as well as the factors that are still an obstacle for this to become a reality.

Why is Diversity so Important for the Industry?

According to the report, the structural disconnects between academia and industry need to be bridged because recruiting and retaining diverse talent brings direct benefits such as:

  • Good business results
  • Higher performance standards
  • Better team dynamics
  • More organizational agility
  • Better strategy overall

What Isn’t Working?

However, when interviewed by the research firm Egg Strategy, diverse talent acknowledged that breaking into the industry and then staying there was incredibly hard. The research identified factors like:

  • Management disconnect
  • Microagressions
  • Cultural illiteracy
  • Workplace integration dissonance

According to the study, there has been significant effort by companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Verizon to work with their agency partners to ensure diversity on the teams when executing campaigns. However, diversity numbers are still pretty low, as shown in these graphics taken from the report:

As written in the report, “the industry has focused on addressing the diversity issue, which is the right issue to focus on — but we have taken the wrong approach.”  The phrase “diversity and inclusion” suggests that diversity comes before inclusion when in reality diversity results from being inclusive. The problem then is that focusing on the result instead of thinking of how to get there makes us distracted from all the requirements to get to that result.

Thus, the report concludes that the focus must be how we can be more inclusive as an industry, both to attract and retain outstanding diverse talent: “Greater inclusivity is the key to improving diversity, and it has been demonstrated more diverse teams drive business growth. Inclusivity also signals to our next generation of talent that their voices truly matter, that they belong in the marketing and advertising industry, and that their talent is sorely needed.”

Cover image adapted from the report.

What:  TBWA\Worldwide has launched a membership-based online resource to showcase and connect brands with creative vendors.
Why it matters: The objective is to help producers and creatives locate and explore noteworthy diverse and women-owned creative vendors to bid on projects.

TBWA\Worldwide announced the launch of OneSandbox, a curated search platform built to showcase diverse makers and vendors in the creative space, and connect them with brands and agencies looking to develop a more inclusive supply chain. The platform seeks to make progress in helping diverse entrepreneurs achieve economic equity. Of the 30 million businesses in America, 52% are owned, operated and controlled by a woman or person of color. Yet they get only 6% of domestic business revenues.

“Today, almost 50% of the country is multicultural, and to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I can’t help’ is not acceptable,” said Doug Melville, Chief Diversity Officer for TBWA North America. “We created OneSandbox to better inform and better equip our industry peers to do their part to shift the D&I conversation, and make real strides to overcome the disparities for diverse makers and creators. We hope that by making this information easily and readily available, we can eliminate some of the barriers and make some real change.”

The objective is to help producers and creatives locate and explore noteworthy diverse and women-owned creative vendors to bid on projects. OneSandbox identifies, evaluates, and lists qualified MWBEs. This includes businesses that are either classified or certified by one of several major diversity councils: Women (WBENC), Multicultural (NMSDC), Hispanic (USHCC), LGBT (NGLCC) and Veteran (NaVOBA).

“What’s so powerful about OneSandbox is that brands and agencies will finally have one centralized resource to explore, experience and hire fresh voices and fresh visions that can create work that truly reflects a more diverse and inclusive American audience,” said Rob Schwartz, CEO of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York.

OneSandbox also includes information on more than 40 Diversity & Inclusion themed conferences, 20 D&I award shows, and a real-time aggregated newsfeed highlighting must-read stories from around the web on Diversity & Inclusion, with over 5,000 articles at launch. All of these features are available for public consumption at no cost.

Current OneSandbox member agencies include TBWA\Chiat\Day, The Integer Group, GMR Marketing, Eventive, TBWA\Media Arts Lab, The Collective, TBWA\WorldHealth, Nissan United, 180LA, Designory and Engage. The system is also in beta testing across other agencies within the Omnicom People Engagement Network (OPEN), with plans to extend full membership offers across additional Omnicom agencies, followed by the industry at large in the coming year.

What: Verizon has launched  AdFellows program, a paid fellowship that will give diverse young marketers internships at companies & agencies.
Why it matters: 20 diverse young marketers will have the chance to work within Verizon & its partner agencies (McCann Worldwide, Momentum, Rauxa, Weber Shandwick, and ZenithOptimedia) over the course of eight months.

Verizon  wants to promote diversity within the marketing industry that is why the company has launched AdFellows program, a paid fellowship that will give 20 diverse young marketers internships to work within the company and at its partner agencies (McCann Worldwide, Momentum, Rauxa, Weber Shandwick, and ZenithOptimedia) over the course of eight months.

Almost a year ago, Verizon’s chief marketing officer Diego Scotti sent letters to 11 of the agencies Verizon works with.

“Verizon is a company that has a long history of diversity, but for us diversity is not just about the right thing to do, it’s critical to our success,” Verizon CMO Diego Scotti, tells Marketing Daily. “For us, when you look at marketing and creativity in particular, the issue around giving diverse talent an opportunity is critical for success.”

Last September, Verizon made public a letter Scotti wrote to his agencies calling for more diversity among the ranks. More diversity would give the company more perspectives into a diverse American public, he said in the letter. He echoed that sentiment when talking about the AdFellows program.

“As an industry, we need to start taking action, and we need to be at the forefront,” Scotti says. “We don’t believe in quotas, we believe in progress, and we have to make that progress.”

Including the agencies among the partners for the fellowships is an important way to show the industry Verizon is committed to encouraging diversity across the board. It also gives potential recruits an opportunity to gain a broader range of experience.

Diego Scotti – “As an industry, we need to start taking action, and we need to be at the forefront”

The paid fellowship will cover housing, and includes a goal to place 90% of the participants in positions at either Verizon or its agencies. Scotti notes the company’s 9-month-old in-house agency is staffed with 50% minorities, and is 52% female.

“It’s not an issue about finding people,” Scotti says. “When you build something from scratch you can do it right from the start.”

But getting recruitment right is only a part of the equation, Scotti says. The next step is creating opportunities and the environment that encourages the diverse workforce to stay for the long-term. He also hopes other companies and organizations take a cue from this program and start their own.

“We want to do something that endures. If you’re going to do that, you’ve got to do it right,” Scotti says. “As an industry, we need to start taking action, and we want to be at the forefront of that.”