Diversity in the Advertising Industry

By: Meredith Erikson

With lack of diversity in the advertising industry, it’s harder for advertisers to see other points of view before making ethical agreements. When there is a more diverse group of people in a room, there’s a larger variety of moral values to influence ethical decisions. There may be norms in one person’s culture that aren’t in another person’s and without those differences among the workforce, insensitive advertisements could be produced. This a common criticism of using a non-consequentialism approach to ethical dilemmas. For example, when Intel made an ad that showed a white man folding his arms and standing while six muscular black runners were shown bowing down to him with words that read “Multiply computing performance and maximize the power of your employees,” it was seen as racially offensive. According to Karanovic, “Intel’s ad borrows the cinema’s character placement by placing the African-American men as the inferior, characters, while the white male is seemingly superior.”

Diversity in the advertising world doesn’t only have to do with race but also with gender. Although the number of women in advertising is increasing it’s important that they’re involved in all types of advertising and in higher corporate positions. With more women in the advertising field it could help prevent inappropriate and misleading ads as well, especially in the fashion industry. In another example, BIC had an advertisement that read “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss.” To top it off it included the hashtag #HappyWomensDay. To a lot of women this was considered a sexist message according to CNN and if there had been more input from women this could have been avoided.

In an interesting article by the New York Times, it was found that according to a report by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People found that black employees in the industry get paid 80 cents for each dollar earned by white employees. This creates an impact of unfairness and inequality in the advertising industry. Without equal opportunity it can lead to resentment towards the industry thus leading to less diversity. There must be an encouraging environment in order to keep the number of minority employees. The lack of diversity in advertising not only impacts the industry as itself but our society as well. If we can’t incorporate diversity in this creative field, how are we going to learn to have diversity in everything else? We can’t progress as a culture if this issue is holding us back. Once the industry improves its diversity, it’ll set a great example of what other industries should be like.



Media and Cultural Analysis, Spring 2014. (2014, May 12). Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://www.karanovic.org/courses/mca008/archives/1613

Payne, E. (2015, August 12). Bic offends with women’s day salute in South Africa. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/12/africa/feat-bic-sexist-pens/

Vega, T. (2012, September 03). With Diversity Still Lacking, Industry Focuses on Retention. Retrieved February 22, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/business/media/with-diversity-still-lacking-industry-focuses-on-retention.html?_r=0



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