Diversity has been top-of-mind for many advertisers as social justice movements, like Black Lives Matter, have gained more traction, putting a spotlight on the work that still needs to be done to improve equity, tolerance, and inclusion in the industry.

As the Association of National Advertisers reported, ad companies still have a long way to go in increasing racial and ethnic diversity across leadership roles. Meanwhile, investing in diversity efforts has been found to increase productivity and employee engagement in the workplace.

To better understand how U.S. brands and agencies are approaching diversity in advertising, Taboola, a global employer, and Advertiser Perceptions launched a study, “Thought Leadership & Brand Position Insights” for Q3 2021.

Here’s what we found.

76% of Brands & Agencies Incorporated Diversity in 2021 Marketing Goals

When building their marketing goals for 2021, three-in-four respondents took diversity into account. More specifically, the study defined diversity to include gender, age, race, sexual identity, disability, or ethnicity.

83% Prioritize Hiring More Diverse Talent

How exactly are brands and agencies planning to increase diversity and incorporate inclusion into their marketing goals? Most notably, by hiring more diverse talent, which 83% of respondents said was extremely or very important.

Digging in further, advertisers are eager to:

  • Create ads with diverse people — 82%
  • Target a more diverse audience — 80%
  • Advertise on multicultural publisher sites — 73%
  • Partner with multicultural influencers — 70%
  • Work with minority-owned media partners — 66%
  • Take on more diverse clients — 65%

61% Want to Work with MBE & WBE Ad Partners

Here’s another clear objective for ad companies: partnering with more minority- and women-owned businesses. Two-thirds of respondents said they were very or somewhat interested in working with businesses that have Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certifications.

In fact, brands and agencies said they’d like to work with a median of five minority-owned media partners by 2022.

Advertisers Look Beyond Just Age and Gender Diversity

While the ad industry still has to make more strides in addressing the gender gap and battling ageism, advertisers are also planning to improve ethnic and racial diversity by targeting certain audience segments with their messaging and campaigns.

According to our study, respondents were keen to reach groups based on the following characteristics in 2021:

  • Age — 66%
  • African American — 55%
  • Latinx — 54%
  • Gender — 54%
  • Asian — 42%
  • LGBTQ+ — 41%

Building a More Diverse Future for Advertising

The advertising industry has a lot of work to do in order to build a more equitable and inclusive field for employees, partner companies, and consumers. The good news is, as our study found, brands, agencies, and advertising leaders are putting diversity efforts at the forefront of their marketing goals and hiring strategies — with an eye towards building campaigns that better represent the world as a whole.

Diversity isn’t just a box to check on a spreadsheet. It’s good for business, productivity, and revenue. With the right approach, brands and agencies can make diverse practices part of an ongoing commitment to create more open, honest, and trustworthy communities — inside and outside of the office.

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