Report

Many organizations have been taking action to address biases and inequities in their own structures and systems. And widespread protests against police violence and anti-Black racism have accelerated and deepened discussions about race and racism across society.

 

It was in this context that Ogilvy Canada, an integrated creative network, approached Environics Research to study the relationship between the advertising industry and young Black professionals. The firm wanted to know how young career-builders perceive the advertising industry, how they view their prospects in the field (including possible barriers to success), and how firms can support Black professionals in pursuing opportunities and success in advertising.

 

Ogilvy chose Environics in large part because of our Cultural Markets practice, and our record of designing effective and culturally appropriate research initiatives that connect with Canada’s diverse cultural communities.

 

The findings were striking. Among young Black professionals, the research found:

  • Stronger than average enthusiasm for advertising careers. This enthusiasm is fuelled in large part by the nature of the work itself: concrete (ad professionals “make something”), prominent and filled with learning opportunities.
  • Greater confidence in their own potential to succeed in the field. Black professionals were more likely than those from other backgrounds to believe that they could rise to the top.
  • A sense that Black professionals might have a hard time breaking into the industry. Racism and lookism, among other factors, were cited as potential barriers.

The report makes five evidence-based recommendations for how leaders in advertising can help to build firms – and a wider industry – that reflect the diversity of young talent and benefit from the creative contributions of new entrants from all backgrounds. The recommendations begin with a call for leaders to simply recognize and embrace the widespread enthusiasm for advertising work that’s evident among young Black talent, who are more than three times as likely as others to be keen on careers in the field.

Although the research initiative was focused specifically on advertising, the findings deserve attention from leaders across marketing, communications, market research and related fields. They suggest the potential to expand and diversify these industries’ talent pools, to connect Black professionals with rewarding opportunities, and to increase the relevance of our work by ensuring that our industries reflect society.

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