NYC Aims To Add Color To Ad Agencies

An eye-opening story in today’s New York Times takes a look at minority hiring practices–and salaries–in New York City’s ad scene.

Finding that just 2 percent of the upper echelon of the advertising industry is black, New York City officials said yesterday that they had reached agreements with several of the nation’s biggest ad firms forcing them to bring more black managers into this crucial sector of the city’s economy.

“forcing them”–interesting choice of language. Realistically, can agencies be forced to hire more blacks? And if not, what penalties would be involved?
Further on, we get this:

The commission’s analysis, which looked at salary levels as well as job titles, indicated that although the major ad firms have black workers, they are largely absent from the most senior or creative levels. Of 476 employees at DDB’s New York office, commission officials said, 51 are black. But of 159 employees making $100,000 or more, only 2 are black. Neither is among the 29 employees earning $200,000 to $300,000 or the 22 employees earning more than $300,000.
A similar pattern exists across the industry, commission officials said. At BBDO, of 1,077 New York office employees, 104 are black. In the group making $100,000 or more, 6 employees are black; among the 140 who earn $100,000 to $200,000, there are only 5. Not one of the 89 employees who earn $200,000 to $300,000 is black, and among the 59 earning above $300,000, there is but one black employee.
At Merkley & Partners, 10 of 207 employees are black. None earn more than $100,000.

Does this mean real change is on the way?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.