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Hispanic Representation in Ad Industry Still Lags Behind

December 2, 2021

By Bill Duggan


The ANA/AIMM recently released, "A Diversity Report for the Advertising/Marketing Industry," examining diversity in client-side marketing departments. The report comes with a significant headline. Finally, there has been progress in increasing ethnic diversity.

Client-side marketing departments are now 30.8 percent ethnically diverse, the highest in the four-year history of this study, yet still behind the U.S. population which is now 42.2 percent diverse.

But representation of both the Black and Hispanic segments are significantly under-represented. There has been lots of attention given to the Black segment over the past eighteen months, sparked by social justice issues. Attention has been on spending with diverse suppliers, particularly media companies, and there has also been attention on internal talent. And that's a good thing. But the Hispanic segment has been a bit overlooked by many and that needs to change.

The percentage of Hispanic representation in client-side marketing departments is higher than ever at 8.9 percent, yet Hispanics represent 18.7 percent of the U.S. population.

Therefore, the percentage of Hispanic representation in the advertising/marketing industry is less than half of what it is in the general population. Clearly, there is room for further improvement.

Looking at representation by job level, Hispanics comprise 10.4 percent of the senior level. That level is defined as, "the highest level within the marketing team, likely 5 to 10 percent of total." At 10.4 percent, Hispanics have more representation at the senior level than they have in the industry overall (8.9 percent). But again, it's less than their representation of the total U.S. population of 18.7 percent.

It's a well-known fact that the Hispanic population is younger than the U.S. population overall and Hispanics are the youngest major ethnic group in the country. Yet surprisingly, Hispanics represent only 9.5 percent of entry-level positions in the ANA/AIMM report. While it's important for corporate marketing departments to increase representation of Hispanics at all levels, there should be a particular emphasis on the entry-level given population trends.

The Hispanic population overall grew a robust 23 percent between the 2010 and 2020 U.S. Census and further growth is also forecast to be strong. Internal talent teams would be well-served to recognize that growth and the importance of the Hispanic market and establish/enhance specific talent recruitment and retention strategies.

In our research we asked, "Are there any key action steps that have helped your company improve diversity within the marketing department?" We learned so much! The ten insights below have been hand-picked from the many rich verbatim comments as they are insightful for improving diversity overall and specifically for increasing representation among Hispanics.

  • Establish current baseline through a reporting protocol for tracking gender and historically underrepresented groups within U.S. marketing as well as supplier and agency teams.
  • Senior leaders are held accountable for building diversity in their organizations, with specific representation targets.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion council — specifically for the marketing organization — meets regularly with executive sponsors, talent acquisition, talent, and marketing teams representatives to identify programmatic approaches to attract, retain, and develop diverse talent.
  • Training on unconscious bias and racially motivated misconduct in the workplace.
  • More focus on internal referrals/recommendations from our diverse teammates for open positions; working with our Employee Resource Groups to broadcast open roles.
  • Must include diverse candidate(s) in the candidate pool before moving forward with interviews; a diverse candidate must be in the final round of interviews; there must be diversity among the interviewers.
  • Doubling down on mentoring/sponsorship programs to pair individuals with leaders, and career days throughout various locations, for continued internal placement and career progression.
  • Build out Employee Resource Groups; goal of ERGs is to provide a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace to create a sense of community and to drive higher associate retention and increased associate performance.
  • Set goals to increase marketing spend with diverse partners to better reflect the communities we serve.
  • Set a public commitment to reflect consumers' diversity in innovation, brand strategy, and brand communications with multicultural representation in insights, input from diverse stakeholders during campaign development, and increased partnerships with diverse content creators and agencies.

To accurately know the current state of diversity/gender equality and the progress we are making (or lack thereof), we must measure it. The ANA/AIMM is committed to such a public measurement annually. This work is an important initiative for the Society and Sustainability priority of the ANA Growth Agenda, which provides a guide for the industry to leverage marketing as a sustainable growth driver. A specific mandate for the Society and Sustainability working group is to achieve equal representation in the media and creative supply chain.

It further specifies: "Our aspiration means every link in the chain, at every level, reflects ... racial and ethnic representation equal to the U.S. population. When we achieve this level of equality, evidence consistently points to better innovation, better problem-solving, and more growth. Equal representation builds greater access to opportunity. Equal representation leads to equity in income and wealth creation. That leads to more purchasing power — which leads to market growth."

We remain optimistic that the next annual ANA/AIMM diversity report will show increased diversity overall and increased diversity among Hispanics more specifically.

To download the current report, click here.

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