How many people of color do you work with?
How many people of color are on your company’s executive team?If you work in an advertising agency, chances are high that your diversity numbers are low. Click To Tweet
Meanwhile, African Americans are showing up and spending $1.3 trillion dollars this year. This, despite the fact that only a fraction ($2.24 billion) of the $75 billion invested in television, magazine, internet, and radio advertising was spent with black audiences in mind.
Step Up, Or Off
Racial and sexual inequity is an important topic that’s currently in the air, in the media, and increasingly it’s a point of contention at industry conferences.
Don’t tell black folks we have to wait. There are hundreds of black creatives who are already freelancing or on the fringe of advertising who are capable of doing the job. If I told a white woman, ‘Wait ten years until we can grow you,’ she’d be offended. What you wouldn’t do to white women, please don’t do to black folks.
Walker also took to Twitter to reflect and share some of his understandable dismay.
My biggest regret about my comments @3PercentConf is that I didn't drive it home that we aren't talking diversity. We are talking people.
— Derek Walker (@dereklwalker) November 4, 2017
I reached out to Walker and asked him to elaborate. He was kind enough to reply:
The people in advertising who are charged with fighting against prejudice and bias in advertising, base their responses and actions on biases and prejudices. That’s what we do when we tell people of color that their absence is due to a lack of education or knowledge about the advertising industry.
We don’t see this because we don’t see human beings. We see numbers, statistics, data points and percentages. It is easier if we don’t see faces and lives that are impacted negatively by diversity – we don’t see human beings. And we damn sure don’t see equals. If we did, our actions would bear this out.
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, African-Americans accounted for 5.3% of the employees in advertising, public relations and related services in the U.S. in 2015, down from 7.1% in 2005. That’s significantly less than in the total U.S. workforce, where African-Americans accounted for 11.7% of employed Americans in 2015.
The statistics are ugly and consistently revealing. Walker reminds us to see past the stats and realize that someone’s career is impacted, and possibly the trajectory of their family life, whenever they’re “boxed out” of the profession because of sex, race, age, or religion.