The Ad Industry Boasts Strong Female Representation but Lags in Ethnic Diversity

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As research shows that diversity helps companies perform better, an ANA report reveals that that the female-dominated advertising and marketing industry has strong female representation at top levels – but its ethnic diversity needs to improve.

The advertising and marketing industry, including at its leadership levels, demonstrates strong female representation. But it lags in achieving ethnic diversity at all levels.

These are the findings of a major study on diversity in the industry released late last year by the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing at the ANA.

Woman walking while carrying a baby

The industry is overwhelmingly populated by women; the ANA study reports a gender breakdown that is 67 percent female and 33 percent male. Historically, the reality may have been that an industry dominated by women saw mostly men in leadership roles, but the study found that 45 percent of the top marketer roles were held by women at 747 client-side marketer member companies. As the report notes, in an industry that skews so heavily female, it may become necessary to pay attention to retaining sufficient male representation.

The industry is much less ethnically diverse, however.

According to the U.S. Census, African Americans/Blacks comprise 13 percent of the total U.S. population, while Hispanics/Latinos comprise 18 percent of the population and Asian are 6 percent of the total population. The ANA study found that African Americans/Blacks are only 6 percent of the industry, Hispanics/Latinos only 8 percent and Asians only 10 percent. Among CMOs and other top-level marketers, African Americans/Blacks were 3 percent, Hispanics/Latinos 5 percent, and Asians 5 percent. Eighty-seven percent of CMOs and other top-level marketers are white.

As the report notes, in an industry that skews so heavily female, it may become necessary to pay attention to retaining sufficient male representation.

The study highlighted some interesting recent research from management consulting firm McKinsey. The consultancy found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21 percent likely to outperform on profitability and 24 percent more likely to see superior value creation. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams were 33 percent more likely to have industry-leading profitability.

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