Oregon's Faculty of Journalism examined the range of promoting companies and the numbers are grim
As the summer progressed, the advertising industry was forced to grapple with its own shortcomings regarding the breed. Most notably, the formation of 600 & Rising has aggressively refocused the mission of bringing more diverse talent into advertising and marketing.
In a short time this summer, agencies and holding companies began proactively identifying their diversity numbers. Some used EEOC data while others went deeper.
While inconsistent data can be problematic, it remains positive to get an overview of the position of the industry. 600 & Rising will be vital in the pursuit of greater understanding and progress, as will the 4A and others who want to be positive for change.
Today, the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communications (SOJC) released data from its survey of nearly 1,800 agencies in 65 locations across the US, representing more than 20,000 employees. This study, which according to the SOJC is the "largest database for quantifying the diversity of advertising agencies in the US," was examined by eight students (seven from different backgrounds) and faculty members.
(Disclosure: Doug Zanger is an instructor and advisory board member for the University of Oregon Masters in Advertising and Branding.)
The results focused on three areas: the number of non-white employees, female employees, and non-white female employees. The method uses publicly available information on agency websites and so-called "standard social science coding methods". In the shortest form, teams of two would look at photos and names on websites to judge gender and determine if someone wasn't white or not.
Almost 62% of the agencies are less than 50% women, almost 75% of the agencies are less than 25% non-white, and over 90% of the agencies are less than 25% non-white women.
University of Oregon SOJC University of Oregon SOJC University of Oregon SOJC
The project was funded by Colleen McCloud, a retired Oregon agency director who worked for Foote, Cone & Belding in Los Angeles for 25 years and retired in 1992 as evp, the agency's creative media director.
"We see this project as a much needed resource for the advertising and marketing industries," she said. "Diversity, especially in today's world, is one of the key elements to realizing the power of 'we'. You need to know where you are to get where you want to be."
An open conversation and an opportunity for change
Dave Markowitz, assistant professor at SOJC who led the project with Dave Koranda, professor of practice, noted that other aspects of diversity, such as sexual orientation, were not tracked because of the methodology. Starting with gender and race can be better deduced from images on agency websites, according to Markowitz. Although the method has limitations, the goal was to provide a starting point for the work.
"We want to collect the data in a social science way and have a conversation with industry," said Markowitz. "If there is a discrepancy, let's talk about it instead of relying on the data (agencies) are giving us. What we see is exactly what potential employees see. So this is the representation (in the industry ). "
University of Oregon SOJC
"There is no question that there are people who feel they have been misrepresented," said Koranda. "The opportunity is to show us where we were wrong and have a discussion to work to change that."
Crucial to the effectiveness of the research is that each photo has more than one eye and two people must agree on the rating. Markowitz said the student researchers – known as programmers – came to an agreement 80% to 90% of the time. Seven of the eight researchers from different backgrounds were another integral part of the project.