14 août, 2017

There is a Shortage of Black Professionals in Advertising

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By the year 2020, JWT Brazil aims to have 20% of its staff positions occupied by Black talent.

Shown above, are ten interns that the agency brought on to help create more diversity in the workplace.

This piece is a translated excerpts from an article written by Claudia Penteado that originally appeared as the cover story of Brazil’s Propmark newspaper on August 14.

"Prejudice in disguise (the worst kind) and even, in a way, subliminal racism do exist in the advertising industry. Can anyone out there think of a black advertising executive who climbed the hierarchical ladder (in any area of any medium or large advertising agency in this country) and made it to the top? Diversity is a fallacy." This claim is from one of the rare black professionals in the advertising industry who preferred to remain anonymous.  

It was clear for us that the agency needed to better reflect the diversity of the country in which it is inserted. This isn't only altruism, but also the pursuit for greater competitiveness in the business

The 20/20 Program, announced recently by JWT Brazil, has a significant differentiator,which is the advisory of several experts on the subject of diversity. For example, the agency has HR consultant Patricia Santos, founder of EmpregueAfro, a consulting firm in people management, inclusion and ethnic and racial diversity. Recently, Patricia helped the agency hire ten Black interns (pictured above), with the goal of diversifying structural areas of the agency, such as the creative, media, planning and account management departments. Patricia will be called upon whenever there are job openings in the agency to ensure that there is Black talent in the selection process. She said that JWT was the first advertising agency to come to her with racial diversity as a concern. 

JWT Brazil established the goal of having at least 20% of its strategic positions occupied by Black talent by the year 2020. Today, there are 8%. "It was clear for us that the agency needed to better reflect the diversity of the country in which it is inserted. This isn't only altruism, but also the pursuit for greater competitiveness in the business," says Ricardo John, CCO of the agency.

Another person the agency called on for advice was journalist Rosenildo Ferreira, specialist in sustainability, volunteer at the Zumbi dos Palmares University and member of NGO Afrobras (which maintains the university). Rosenildo said, "The JWT program is unique because, by establishing an ambitious percentage from the start, it makes it clear that the process is real and not just to look good in the Social Report. The 20% would be a "ridiculous" number if we were talking about careers in education, law, or social service, in which the presence of Black talent is historically larger. But, it makes sense if we consider the shortage of Black talent in the advertising industry," he says.

He says that diversity and other sustainability issues are starting to be noticed by agencies because there are companies – such as General Mills, in the USA, and Carrefour, in Brazil – which limit the participation of agencies who pitch to them to those that exhibit a degree of diversity in creative and other areas.


A study from 2015, by the Etnus Institute, about the presence of Black people in the 50 largest advertising agencies in the country – carried out by André Brazoli, Monitoring and Metrics Analyst; Danila Dourado, Digital Communication Consultant for the Ministry of Justice; and Teresa Rocha, the Social Media Project Manager – revealed that of every one thousand employees, only 35 were black. The survey also showed that people of Black or African descent occupy only 0.74% of senior management positions.

Additional data from a survey conducted by the Ethos Institue showed across 500 of the largest companies in Brazil, Black people occupy only 4.7% of managerial positions. To read the original full article click here.

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