Wednesday, February 21, 2007
From the February 12 issue of Advertising Age (followed by online responses)…
Nearly One-Third of AAF Minority Candidates Vacate Ad Industry
Lack of Mentors Biggest Stumbling Block; Being Pigeonholed Also an Issue
By Brooke Capps
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- One month after the New York City Commission on Human Rights released its minority-hiring goals for agencies, 50 of the most talented minority students in advertising came to New York for lunch -- and were virtually devoured by 40 recruiters there to meet them.
The perception about or the reality of low starting salaries, along with difficulty breaking into the business, may be part of the reason MPMS alumni have left the ad business.
The American Advertising Federation has for a decade run its Most Promising Minority Student program to help connect candidates with ad agencies, media agencies and marketers. But finding them and keeping them aren’t the same thing, as evident by the group’s first career-path survey.
Nearly one-third of MPMS program’s alumni have since left the business. Advertising professors Alice Kendrick and Jami Fullerton, who conducted the survey and analyzed the results, speculate that perception about or the reality of low starting salaries, along with difficulty breaking into the business, may be part of the cause. Another issue that emerged as a stumbling block for almost all the participants was the lack of mentors.
The upside is that three-quarters of survey participants said they would be willing to serve as mentors themselves. “They know how important it is and what it meant to them,” said Ms. Fullerton, a professor at Oklahoma State University.
Another concern among minority candidates was that they would be “forever relegated to working on minority accounts,” said Ms. Kendrick, a professor at Temerlin Advertising Institute of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Several respondents remarked that it was a double-edged sword: They felt pigeonholed and found it difficult to work on minority business with people who didn’t understand the culture.
Take this in the larger perspective – I’m an industry veteran who has seen minority and “non-minority” people leave this business at an alarming clip. It’s not about ethnicity – it’s about (many) other things. — NY, NY
Great point on looking at the 66% vs. anything else. By comparison, AD AGE would look at other educational institutions and the % of dropouts and success for example. Number for number.....it is the same percentage at any learning institution or field anywhere. EX. dropout rates for Hispanics in just US High School is 35%. Freshman graduation rates at major colleges can also be found to be the same percentage. — Brandon, FL
The facts mentioned in this article do not surprise me at all. Matter of fact, I am one of the one-third who left the Advertising industry because of lack of recognition and promotion due to not having a mentor. When I started at my first agency, the environment was extremely challenging to find someone who would take me under his or her arms to show me how to handle clients and how to make an account profitable, which leads to recognition and promotions. These ideal mentors either do not necessarily have time to mentor people or are lousy mentors themselves. I resorted to learning the business through the school of hard-knocks and quit after 6 years. Being an African American, I would advise minority students who are looking to get into Advertising to find a small but talented agency with good people to learn the business of Advertising. Advertising is a tough and competitive business that can deter hopes of making it big in the business. However, I would like to see or hear more insights from the other two-third who are doing well and how they managed to survive. — San Francisco, CA
As a proud alumnus of the AAF Most Promising Minority Students programs I was saddened that the focus was on the 1/3 that left and not the 2/3 who stayed. The success rate of the AAF MPMS program is unparalleled. As the premier industry trade publication I would think you would support the obvious success of the program and not join the tired choir of voices who champion the negative POV of diversity in advertising. — New York, NY