Advertising's Race Problem

The advertising industry is too white! It's been an issue forever-see any episode of Mad Men for the historical perspective. Two years ago the NYC Commission on Human Rights decided to hold hearings about diversity in advertising, and all the big ad agency conglomerates enthusiastically signed on. Declaring a firm commitment to diversity is a modern hallmark of the ad industry, along with every other industry. Since diversity hasn't been achieved, of course, the hearings drag on to this day. But Ad Age reports that at last night's meeting, only six white people showed up, and "two were members of the commission, two were lawyers and one was a journalist." That's problematic, since white people are supposed to be the ones getting educated here. And they got called on it:

Sanford Moore, whom Ad Age describes as an "industry gadfly," took the opportunity to slam every white-person excuse that ad agencies tend to offer for having a lack of black employees:

There are simply not enough black people interested in the industry. "We can find black people when we want to take money from black people," he said, pointing out that when general market agencies need help with minority work — and need to prove they have minorities on the account — they can produce black talent seemingly out of thin air.

Black people get frustrated and leave because of lack of support; there's no one in middle management. "There are men sitting in this room who'd jump at such jobs," answered Mr. Moore. "And where are all those interns from the 1970s and 1980s? Where did they go?"

We need better training for minority students; we need to establish a pipeline. "White people don't have a pipeline. They don't need a pipeline. Advertising is the last business where undereducated white people can make money. ... Advertising is made up of the bottom 12% of any MBA class. ... They get paid while we get screwed."

Contrast that with the media industry: full of overeducated white people who can't make money.

[Ad Age]