The call for diversity in the media is resonating with some of America's most powerful corporations. According to a New York Times report, the likes of Verizon, General Mills and HP Inc. are expressly pressuring the advertising agencies they work with to hire more women and people of color or risk losing business with them.
The Times quoted a letter from Verizon's chief marketing officer, Diego Scotti, that noted diversity as "an explicit business objective."
"Marketers are expected to have a deep understanding and insight about their markets, about decision makers and about customers," Scotti said in the letter, the Times reported. "We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our work force and suppliers represent the communities we serve."
Directed at 11 ad agencies that Verizon works with, the letter could be read, perhaps, as an effort to cater to the growing consumer power of women and minorities to voice their concerns.
In the past year alone, there has been a notable call for those in positions of authority to diversify — whether in the entertainment industry, in fashion, or even in politics. Social media — a well-used platform for racial minorities, women, and various other groups — is arguably the driving force behind the push.
In recent times, some businesses have come under fire for succumbing to gross stereotypes in their ads. Like many other powerful industries, advertising has long been dominated by White men (Mad Men, anyone?); vintage ads from the '50s, '60s, and beyond would be laughably absurd if they weren't so real.
The homogeneity in advertising presents a problem in how these agencies sell a client's products to groups of which they have no deep understanding.
But as backlash at each sexist or racist ad becomes more fiery, subsequently upping the risk of financial loss, the industry is attempting to address these concerns. At the recent annual Ad Week gathering, there were panels organized to discuss topics such as "Our Challenge to Erase Gender Stereotypes in Ads" and "Sexism in Advertising and What Brands Should Do," the Times reported.
Without forgetting the fact that the push for diversity among large companies is driven by profit and public relations, it does say something about the voice of the collective minority that their demands as consumers are being heard.