The advertising industry has changed and improved in many ways since its iconic “Mad Men” era boom in the 1960s. From typewriters and smoke filled offices to sleek modern workplaces and digital products, the shift over the past six decades is viscerally apparent. Yet one way the industry still lags behind is in maintaining diversity across the supply chain and business management processes. 

The advertising & marketing industry is still largely white and male dominated. While media companies have made strides in recent years toward being representative across race, sexual orietnation, gender, physical ability, and age in their outward facing campaigns, internal practices are often a different story. 

Advertising and marketing companies have a unique opportunity to positively impact the culture around them by incorporating strategies that encourage diversity and inclusion throughout the entire supply chain. 

Here are five ways that advertising and marketing agencies can be more inclusive.

  1. Implement a supplier diversity program. A diverse supplier is a contractor or business that is at least 51 percent owned, managed, and controlled by qualifying diverse individuals including minorities, women, LGBT, veterans, and persons with disabilities. Advertising agencies with a supplier diversity program have policies and protocol in place to ensure diversity and inclusion when working with outside suppliers. According to Harvard Business Review, many companies have either failed to put such programs in place or have let them lapse into token gestures.
  2. Make inclusion work a core strategy. Diversity and inclusion work should not be an afterthought or supplemental program. It should be integrated into an advertising and marketing company’s daily operations and goals. Additionally, this work should be woven into every level of the company, not simply an executive-level consideration.
  3. Understand bias in the hiring process. When hiring suppliers, contractors, and employees, it is important to evaluate your processes to identify unconscious biases and exclusive languaging. Evaluate the descriptions in your requests for proposals, job listings, and other hiring documents to ensure that they utilize objective hiring criteria and neutral languaging. During the interview or bidding process, make sure you are applying these same standards and adopt internal review protocol to provide accountability and oversight.
  4. Apply policies to every level of production. Inclusion is just as important “behind the scenes” as it is to your public facing campaigns. From camera operators to producers to the creative team and editors, consider each supplier along each step of the production process to identify where inclusion initiatives are needed. This will affect the culture of production and will also affect the end result of your campaign in myriad ways that will add up to a big impact.
  5. Establish Zero-Tolerance for discrimination. Discrimination can happen at all levels of the production process. When managing a large advertising campaign with a variety of assets, it can be difficult to keep tabs on each level of management. However, no matter where in the supply chain the discrimination takes place, it should be addressed immediately—not once the campaign production is complete.

Datalou is the only supplier diversity management system with over one million suppliers with specific capabilities in advertising, marketing, communications, and media. Our robust tracking and reporting system helps you document spending and sourcing efforts, manage certifications, and share data with stakeholders.