Should PR firms be forced to become more diverse as well?

How about the NYC Human Rights Commission stepping in and forcing Manhattan advertising agencies to become more diverse?

According to published reports, just two percent of the upper echelon of NYC’s ad industry is black. And, under an agreement just reached between the top holding companies and the City, the WPPs and Interpublics of the world have set numerical goals for increasing Black representation on their creative and managerial staffs, and to report on their progress each year.

So, here are a few questions:

1.) Why is the diversity effort aimed only at increasing the percentage of blacks? Why not Hispanics or Asians as well? Especially since the former represents the single fastest growing minority in the country?

2.) I know advertising is still the 800-pound gorilla of the marketing world, but why didn’t the human rights commission include agencies representing direct, sales promotion, interactive and, of course, PR?

It really is a sad commentary that a human rights commission has to force an entire industry to become more diverse. Diversity is not just a nice thing to do. It’s a smart business development move since clients want agencies to understand and reflect our increasingly diverse society.

Human rights commissions in various cities can step in and force the issue, but the bigger question is why more client organizations aren’t insisting their agencies become more diverse. In my mind, that’s the only way our industry, and other marketing disciplines, will move into the 21st century.

So, does Peppercom walk the walk? We’re trying. But, we have a long way to go. Just like virtually every other PR firm in New York and around the country.

3 thoughts on “Should PR firms be forced to become more diverse as well?

  1. If the industry really wants to promote diversity, then it needs to foster talent at the university level.
    To make advertising the focus of a diversity reform is plain stupid, as other marketing disciplines grossly under represent the spectrum of our society.
    That said, it all goes back to engaging multicultural talent in schools. I also think that foreign language study, which fosters appreciation and understanding of other cultures, should also be required of marketing students in schools.

  2. I honestly don’t know, Brendan. But I do know that diversiy is an industry-wide issue that is front and center on the agenda of client-focused organizations such as Arthur Page. So I’d guess the answer to yuor question is a resounding “no.”