Welcome to DEI in Media and Marketing, a newsletter about diversity, equity and inclusion for professionals committed to driving meaningful change within the media & marketing industries.
In this issue:
- Condé Nast employees announced their intention to unionize, citing concerns about diversity, equity and inclusion as a key motivator.
- Vox Media, UM and the American Advertising Federation partnered on an educational program designed to facilitate entry of underrepresented groups into media and marketing.
- Ethnic diversity within U.K. agencies increased by 20% in the past year, according to new data from the Institute for Practitioners in Advertising, although pay and seniority gaps remain.
- University of Tennessee has opened the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations and wants to graduate more non-white students.
- Digiday rounded up demographic and diversity data at several high-profile media companies.
Condé Nast employees cite DEI concerns as driving factor behind unionization plans
On March 31, 500 staffers across 12 publications at Condé Nast announced their intention to unionize, per the Columbia Journalism Review. The employees are demanding more DEI commitments from the organization, arguing that Condé Nast has both internal and external DEI issues, including a company culture that stifles BIPOC employees’ chances for success and an outward-facing product that reinforces a Eurocentric standard of beauty. The original drive to unionize was a result of Bon Appétit workers speaking out in 2020 about racial inequality in their workplace.
Condé Nast employees join an ever-growing pool of media workers seeking unionization, many of which are motivated in part by similar DEI concerns:
- Managers at The Atlantic and Politico both voluntarily recognized employee unions in the past year.
- Unions at MSNBC and Washingtonian were not recognized by supervisors, but both won recognition in votes overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.
- In January, U.S. journalists employed at the Financial Times moved to unionize.
Members of the BFN Union voted to strike this week in protest against the company’s proposed layoffs, the Daily Beast reports. Unions could prove an important and powerful driver of greater diversity, equity and inclusion within media companies over the coming years as their influence becomes more prominent across the industry.
UM, Vox, and AAF announce expanded training program designed to promote diversity in the media and marketing industries
Vox Media and Universal McCann are partnering with the American Advertising Federation to expand their “Breaking Media” initiative – an education and mentorship program designed to facilitate the entry of underrepresented groups into the media and marketing industries. Previously called Media 101, the Breaking Media program provides students in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) access to industry education and networking opportunities in advertising and media.
As part of the expanded program, Breaking Media will now offer free access to nine 90-minute 101-level training sessions designed to educate college students on the media and advertising landscape, hosted by UM and Vox Media staffers and executives. Programming includes content on learning the fundamentals of the media agency business, portfolio management, the journey from RFP to IO, digital trends, analytics and more.
Breaking Media differs from other media education programs in that it intentionally incorporates a focus on success for participants after they graduate, with an emphasis on networking opportunities. UM, Vox, and AAF leadership said they worked with members of underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to entry BIPOC people face in the media industry when designing the program.
Ethnic diversity within U.K. agencies increased by 20% in the past year
The Institute for Practitioners in Advertising released a new report with labor and employment data for ad agencies in the U.K., including numbers on race/ethnicity and gender. Key takeaways:
- Diversity among U.K. agencies has improved. The overall percentage of employees from a non-white background is estimated at 18.3%, up almost 20% on the figure of 15.3% reported in 2020.
- Representation at the top of U.K. agencies is improving. Individuals from a non-white background account for 7.1% of C-suite roles, up from 6.4% reported in 2020. The increase was driven by creative and other non-media agencies at 7.4% vs 6.6% in media agencies.
- The number of women in C-suite positions increased marginally. Females occupied 33.5% of C-suite roles, up marginally from the 32.4% recorded in 2020.
- Pay inconsistencies remain. Despite progress in hiring and employment, an ethnicity pay gap of 21.2% in favour of white employees exists. Among those member agencies that provided salary breakdowns by gender and seniority, a pay gap of 23.3% in favour of males exists.
- The IPA met its previously-stated goal of filling 25% of entry-level or junior agency roles with employees from non-white backgrounds, reaching 27.1% in 2021, up from 21.9% in 2020.
Related: WPP published its 2021 U.K. Gender Pay Gap Report, analyzing consolidated data for all WPP member companies in the UK. The report found the average pay gap between men and women in U.K. WPP companies was 22%, which is down from the 25% reported in 2020, but still a significant number.
A roundup of diversity data at major media companies and publishers
Digiday released an analysis of the current diversity data at a handful of U.S. publishers, including BuzzFeed, Hearst, Vox Media, G/O Media, the L.A. Times, and Gannet. Key takeaways include:
- The number of white people employed at BuzzFeed, Vox, and the L.A. Times is equivalent to or less than the proportion of white people in the general US population, while both Hearst and Gannett employ a disproportionately large number of white people (based on population data from the US Census).
- Diversity at the management level has improved, although most managers are white.
Other observations included:
- BuzzFeed hired more women and fewer BIPOC employees as a whole, but more employees identifying as Latinx/Hispanic or Black.
- Hearst hired more women and more BIPOC employees, including more Black and Asian employees, but fewer employees identifying as Latinx/Hispanic.
- Vox Media hired fewer BIPOC employees as a whole, including fewer Asian employees, but did hire more employees identifying as Latinx/Hispanic. The California Times (parent company of the L.A. Times) hired more women and BIPOC employees.
- G/O Media did not release specific demographic data, but reported that 73% of their new hires were considered “diverse,” up from 69% the prior year.
The report also pointed out that white male media employees often focus on increased hiring of women and BIPOC employees, but the employees themselves report that low retention and fewer promotion opportunities are the issues, not a lack of hiring.
Advertising school at University of Tennessee plans to double BIPOC graduates entering the industry
Knoxville-based agency Tombras Advertising has opened the Tombras School of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Tennessee, and has stated a goal to double the number of BIPOC graduates from the University that enter the industry. The school plans to accomplish this goal through partnerships with 38 Tennessee high schools, as well as increased scholarship funding for BIPOC students.
Meanwhile, Tombras Advertising has goals of its own to reach. The company has committed to 13% BIPOC leadership by 2023, but today it sits at 6%. Its BIPOC hiring stats have grown from about 8% of new employees in 2020 to more than 11% in 2021, and the agency no longer requires a college degree in an effort to find more talent beyond the traditional advertising pipelines. “We have a long way to achieve our full DE&I objectives but made measurable progress in 2021,” the company’s president, Dooley Tombras, told Fast Company.
The Tombras initiative follows similar attempts to diversify the industry by increasing the number of BIPOC students in ad schools:
- The ONE School, which began in 2020, is a free online portfolio school specifically designed to remove the financial barriers for Black creatives seeking to enter the advertising industry.
- Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter has created three endowed scholarships focusing on diversity and inclusion: the 2020 Vision for Social Justice scholarship, the Agent of Change scholarship, and the VCU Brandcenter & Rising scholarship.
- Miami Ad School has a long running Diversity Initiative it launched in 2016 that includes a Mentorship and Minority Scholarship program. Its goal is to enroll more minority students into the school to diversify the talent pipelines for ad agencies.
Other notable reads:
- International Transgender Day of Visibility was March 31. AdAge has a roundup of how the industry recognized the day and advocated for increased acceptance of transgender people.
- Own It is a new directory compiling information on female-owned ad agencies to promote and uplift their stories.
- Variety reports that the BBC’s Annual Plan calls for a new target: 25% of the organization’s staff to come from low socio-economic backgrounds by 2027.
- Alex Bennett-Grant argues in AdAge that new diversity initiatives should be viewed through the same lens as a new technology rollout – with five concrete steps to follow.
- Mita Mallick writes for Adweek on ways media and marketing companies can continue to advocate for women in the workplace outside of Women’s History Month, which ended last week.