January 24, 2018

By Bob Liodice, CEO, ANA

The recent outcry about headline speakers at CES ignited another round of debate and discussion about our industry's diversity/gender equality issues. Yes, it would have been better had there been a more diverse slate of CES presenters. And all conference and event planners — including the ANA — need to ensure that we practice what we preach. I know we don't always get it right, so we need to do a better job to create agendas inspired by a diverse slate of speakers.

There are currently many industry initiatives to promote gender equality and diversity. At the ANA, we are proud of the #SeeHer initiative — a product of our Alliance for Family Entertainment. Also, during the past year we created the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) to address a multitude of diversity and marketing shortfalls. Our colleagues at the 4A's, IAB, AAF, the Ad Club of NY, Ad Color, and others are all doing noble work to advance our industry.

ANA CEO Bob Liodice stresses the importance of measuring the ad industry's efforts to improve diversity and equality.

However, such efforts, while laudable, are fundamentally insufficient and sometimes frustrating due to an inability to publicly measure the impact of our employment practices. How are we supposed to know what the current state of diversity/gender equality really is and how much progress we are making without a public accounting? We look to measure everything else in our industry, but when it comes to knowing whether we have diverse talent, the rhetoric cools quickly and moves to a lower level of volume. As the old saying goes, "you can't manage what you can't measure."

Like any affliction, we need to start by admitting we have a problem, doing something about it, and tracking our progress with rigorous measurements. If we are going to truly challenge ourselves to do better (and we all know we can do better), then we need to face this squarely and accurately — with real measurements. Shouldn't we publicly track ourselves with real data from client-side marketers, agencies, publishers, media companies, researchers, suppliers, and vendors?

No doubt this is a sensitive issue — and such data is extraordinarily difficult to come by. But if we are looking for behavioral change on an issue that many of us feel very strongly about, then we have to back it up with tangible commitments. Then we can effect real change and take the high ground.

 

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