Following CES backlash, ANA CEO says ‘rigorous measurements’ are needed to track industry diversity

Bob Liodice opening the ANA's 2017 Masters of Marketing conference

ANA’s chief executive Bob Liodice is calling on the industry to do a better job of tracking and measuring what progress is being made on the diversity front.

His comments come a week after CES, the annual tech conference that takes place in Las Vegas each January, came under fire for announcing an all-male keynote speaker lineup. In recent days, CES has attempted to make amends by adding women to one of its keynote panels.

In a statement, Liodice said that “the recent outcry about headline speakers at CES ignited another round of debate and discussion about our industry's diversity/gender equality issues.”

He went on to say that while programs like the ANA’s own #SeeHer initiative and its Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing have helped promote gender equality and diversity, as have similar efforts from “the 4A's, IAB, AAF, the Ad Club of NY, Ad Color and others,” he doesn’t believe they’re doing enough.

“Such efforts, while laudable, are fundamentally insufficient and sometimes frustrating due to an inability to publicly measure the impact of our employment practices,” he said. “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. Like any affliction, we need to start by admitting we have a problem, doing something about it, and tracking our progress with rigorous measurements.”

A handful of brands, most notably Verizon and HP, have taken steps in recent years to become more transparent about the number of women and people of color they employ, but it’s a subject that most companies shy away from discussing. According to Fortune, only 20% of companies on the Fortune 500 list this year publicly released any numbers regarding the race and gender of their employees.

Both Verizon and HP have also actively pressured their agency partners to prioritize diversity. Last year, Verizon’s chief marketing officer Diego Scotti asked 11 of the agencies it works with to submit details on how many women and minorities they employed across different roles and in senior leadership positions. He also asked them to create action plans that would detail their plans to increase those numbers.

In September of 2016, HP’s global chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio tasked the company’s agency partners with hiring more women and minorities. During Advertising Week New York this year, Lucio revealed that the company’s two lead creative agencies, BBDO and Fred & Farid, have significantly increased the number of women in creative leadership roles over the past year.

The 3% Conference is also tracking agency progress through its recently unveiled certification program, which rewards agencies who meet its propriety FORE standards: Female leadership, Opportunity for advancement, Respectful depictions in work and Equality of work, wage and policies.

Last month, 3% Conference chief operating officer Lisen Stromberg said that the organization looks at data including staffing ratios, retention, tenure, promotion and turnover to evaluate whether or not an agency is eligible to become 3% Certified. Agencies must pay $25,000 to go through the certification process.

In addition to the certification program, The 3% Conference also has an ongoing database of agency statistics around diversity and inclusion that agencies can submit to confidentially. The first installment of data, revealed at the 3% Conference in New York last month, found that 39% of women hold executive roles across agencies of all sizes while 29% now hold creative director roles.

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