Advertising Age spotlighted a status report from Three’s A Crowd, an LA-based creative collective that challenged a group of White advertising agencies in 2020 to boost Black leadership within their offices. The report showed that among 23 shops engaging in the performative exercise, an increase in Black executives was countered by a decrease in total Black leadership. Read the article below for the fuzzy math.
The numbers and percentages sugarcoat reality. In 2021, Three’s A Crowd revealed that the number of participating White advertising agencies had dropped from 71 to 22. So perhaps that there are now 23 shops involved demonstrates progress. Yet only 30% of the agencies claimed to be “satisfied or somewhat satisfied” with their diversity-related achievements, down from 50% in the previous year.
In summation, the latest divershitty dispatch underscores the hard truth: White people cannot sustain interest in anti-racist objectives—and they cannot work with continuous intention for diversity, equity and inclusion. But they do a brilliant job of twisting data to perpetuate the illusion of committed concern.
Oh, and there’s a sharp increase in royalty-free stock photography usage to illustrate content—as evidenced by the image above from the Ad Age article.
Ad Agency Group’s Effort To Boost Black Leadership Shows Progress—And Regression
Report for 23 shops in the In for 13 Initiative shows an increase in Black executives since 2020, but total Black leadership slipped last year
By Tony Hao
A Los Angeles creative collective named Three’s a Crowd has released a two-year report examining its participating agencies’ progress toward increasing the number of Black leaders in the industry—and the findings show both progress and regression.
The In for 13 Initiative, launched in 2020, is composed of 23 agencies and has a goal to boost Black leadership within its membership to 13% by 2023. In that, there has been significant progress. Among agencies within the group are Stagwell’s 72andSunny, WPP’s AKQA, Interpublic Group of Cos. Deutsch LA and Huge and independent Zambezi.
According to the report, Black executives consist of 6.1% of total leadership across the agencies—a 96% increase from 3.1% in 2020. In addition, 8.9% of total agency employees in 2022 are Black, a 34% increase from the 6.7% in 2020, the report found.
Now for the bad news: The volume of Black leadership has shrunk compared to 2021. Last year, total Black leadership within the group sat at 6.5%, slightly higher than the number in 2022. Only one-third of all surveyed agencies are “satisfied or somewhat satisfied” with their progress in promoting diversity. In 2021, the number of satisfied agencies was 50%.
The report attributes the setback to agencies’ trouble with retention. In 2022, 40% of all participating agencies reported that retaining talent is their biggest challenge. This number jumped from 23% in 2021, before what the report calls the “Great Resignation.”
As the effort to build Black leadership, in the language of the report, moves beyond being “transactional,” agencies are starting to see success in the impact of Black talent beyond the professional world. Half of the agencies have reported a “change in culture” in their workspace, a 9% increase from 2021. More significantly, 25% of the agencies have reported they have contributed to an “impact in [the] Black community,” a 100% increase from the previous year.
Addressing the future of Black talent development, the report observes that “agencies are moving to more sponsorship programs and continued focus on finding talent outside the industry.” In addition, the priority for agencies has shifted from providing direct guidance to being “part of something bigger.” In 2022, 27% of the agencies value being “part of larger industry change,” an increase from last year’s number of 22%.