But according to data from the NYCCHR as reported in Advertising Age, the number of African Americans hired -- which had been the original issue -- were still paltry. Moore, who brought the complaint to the commission, said he was discouraged by the African-American numbers and unswayed by the bright spots elsewhere. "Blacks are not the minority of choice" for those doing the hiring, he says. And he adds that he's seen minority hiring spurts before, only to see people of color leave the industry after bumping up against glass ceilings.
The NYCCHR was not able to provide data about those agencies' 2007 hiring results to Adweek by press time.
"You don't let someone off the hook for decades of blatant discrimination because they hire a few people," Moore says. "Madison Avenue has been about supporting, subsidizing and propagating a value system that marginalizes blacks, black media institutions, black creativity and black culture."
And advertising, he says, requires neither special degrees nor a particularly keen intellect: "Madison Avenue is one of the last places where undereducated whites can still make big money." White executives for decades, he adds, have told him that diversity was "the moral issue of our time" and that their own shops had a "level playing field." To which he counters, "If it were a level playing field, black people wouldn't be rolling off the playing field."
This is not to say there haven't been concerted efforts to diversify. Over the last few years, a handful of ad agencies have hired diversity officers whose primary focus is to increase recruitment, and to structure mentoring programs and affinity groups within the agencies. The programs build a supportive culture within firms that, consciously or not, have not always supported people of color, and in so doing may be beginning to crack the glass ceiling.
Gardner was named director of diversity for IPG in 2003 and, in 2007, was promoted to svp and chief diversity officer, marking the first time a person of color has served as an officer in the company. (Last year, IPG appointed its sole African-American board member, Jocelyn Miller-Carter, who owns a Florida technology company.)
According to Gardner, a major challenge involves not just hiring minorities, but keeping them on board, since turnover with minorities is 30 percent higher than whites at IPG. "This really speaks to the issue of sustainability," Gardner says. "We have done a much better job of recruiting" for entry-level jobs, she says, "but now we have to focus on the mid- and senior levels."
Today, 20 percent of the company's junior staff are minorities, but of the nearly 100 agencies that Interpublic owns outright or partly, only two are headed by African Americans: Larry Harris in 2007 was named president of the newly formed Ansible, a mobile marketing agency that is a joint venture between IPG and mobile technology provider Velti; and Steve Stoute is founder of Translation Consultation + Brand Imaging.
Gardner says the company does not go so far as the NFL and require a diverse candidate slate, but it "recommends" it.
Continue to next page →