April 13, 2010

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>BACKGROUND: Ironically, the ad industry, which crafts the blizzard of messages that shape this diverse nation's image of itself, has long been criticized for its own lack of diversity. That racially charged issue has been hovering in the background of the business since the 1970s, when New York City's Commission on Human Rights first went public and forced three of that era's largest agencies to agree to do something about it. But decades later, according to New York City Council Civil-Rights Committee chairman Larry Seabrook, the racial balance within advertising agencies has not only NOT gotten better, it's gotten worse. ( See this week's "Ad Industry's Minority-Hiring Practices Called a New York City 'Embarrassment'" -- http://www.adage.com/news.cms?newsId=48142 ). The initial wave of comments that have come into the Ad Age poll since Monday clearly show a sharp divergence of feelings within the advertising ranks. One voter wrote, "If white women are still struggling to break through the glass ceiling -- especially in creative departments -- I can only imagine how it feels to be a racial minority in this white, alpha-male-driven industry." A second countered, "Advertising is very special because people are hired on their talent, not race, not gender, and not looks... Besides, should minority agencies be forced to hire more white people?"

Clearly, the advertising industry and its trade organizations have made some earnest efforts to address this complex issue over the years, but do YOU think they have done enough and, more importantly, as an insider, can you suggest practical measures that might help mitigate this continuing problem?

> THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Are there too few minorities in the New York advertising industry?

> VOTE & COMMENT for possible publication in next week's print edition
> of Advertising Age at http://www.adage.com/poll.cms


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