Finding that just 2 percent of the upper echelon of the advertising industry is black, New York City officials said yesterday that they had reached agreements with several of the nation’s biggest ad firms forcing them to bring more black managers into this crucial sector of the city’s economy.
The city’s Human Rights Commission found that hiring of black workers had barely improved since an inquiry found similar problems 40 years ago. Of 8,000 employees working for 16 agencies the commission examined, Patricia L. Gatling, chairwoman of the commission, said about 22 percent make more than $100,000 a year, and only 2.5 percent of those are black.
Faced with the findings, nearly a dozen agencies, including those owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies and the WPP Group, have promised to set numerical goals for increasing black representation on their creative and managerial staffs and to report on their progress each year.
This seems like a good development, but there’s a lot of inertia and legacy to swim against. These hearings have also been New York-focused, which makes a lot sense, but will they have an impact beyond New York to second-tier advertising-agency markets?