The ad agencies brought this on themselves. AdAge’s Ken Wheaton called it in his July 2008 editorial, “Agencies Have Funny Way of Showing ‘Commitment’ to Diversity”. Back then, when agencies failed to show up for The New York City Commission on Human Rights meeting, he said lawyers would come a knockin’ and so they have. Lawyer Cyrus Mehri’s presentation on the Madison Avenue Project on diversity in advertising has been released. You can download it here.
Highlights from the brief include:
– “Black college graduates working in advertising earn $.80 for every dollar earned by their equally-qualified White counterparts. Blacks would need to be paid 25% more to earn what Whites earn with the same qualifications. This racial pay gap is more than twice as large in advertising as in the overall labor market.”
– “Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission estimate the expected representation of African Americans at 9.6% of advertising managers and professionals. The current 5.3% representation reaches only 55% of that benchmark, and eliminating this shortfall would require hiring or promoting 7,200 additional Black advertising professionals and managers.”
– “African Americans are often excluded from “general market” agencies and find work only in agencies specializing in “ethnic markets.”
– “About 16% of large establishments in the industry employ no Black managers or professionals, a rate 60% higher than in the overall labor market.”
– “Blacks are only 62% as likely as their White counterparts to work in advertising agencies’ powerful “creative” and “client contact” functions and only 10% as likely to hold a position paying $100,000 or more per year. Such occupational segregation currently affects 3,500 (40%) Black professionals and managers employed in the industry.”
I’m just gonna come out and say this – this report is merely highlighting what many Blacks have known for a long time. If you aren’t a minority, maybe this all seems like a big pain in the ass, folks whining. I ask you this though – how can any of us object to righting the inequality of unequal pay? Just that. That one point. How can we let that stand at the bare minimum? And when I say that, I mean for women and other shades of brown as well. It’s the 21st century. Lets get this shit together and stop embarrassing ourselves as an industry, alright?
Matt will have more reporting regarding his findings from the press conference later today.