by Nathalie Tadena
Originally published: March 18, 2016
Companies’ varying reporting methods make it tough to discern the racial and gender makeup of the ad industry
Recent incidents of alleged sexist and racist behavior among advertising executives has thrust Madison Avenue into the limelight, raising questions once again about the number of women and minorities in marketing positions of power.
Broad government data indicate that African-Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented among the advertising and public relations industries, but more granular data can be tougher to come by. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission collects demographic information annually from each company about its workforce in the U.S., including data on race and gender. But companies are not required to publicly disclose those filings.
Marc Bendick Jr., a labor economist and workplace discrimination expert who has studied the advertising industry, says the lack of women and minorities is quite clear.
“If you look at the face of the advertising industry in 1960s as portrayed on the program ‘Mad Men’ and the face of the industry today, they look shockingly similar,” said Mr. Bendick. “Many industries in the country have moved on a lot since the 1960s…it’s quite amazing [advertising] has been such a holdout.”