By Joanna Seddon
In a volunteer capacity, I co-chair the Marketing Hall of Fame. The Marketing Hall of Fame celebrates brilliance in marketing. Each year it honors 3 or 4 outstanding marketing innovators, elected by a rigorous democratic process. It reflects the very best of marketing. Unfortunately, it also reflects the challenges that marketing faces.
The very best marketers are the ones who have achieved great things in careers often spanning many years. Inevitably, they mirror marketing’s makeup. There is a stark lack of diversity in marketing.
The ANA’s Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM) reports that in 2021 over 86 % of CMOs were white, only 13% diverse. CMOs do not represent the population as a whole, now 58% white and 42% diverse. Blacks and Hispanics are most starkly underrepresented. Less than 5% of CMOs are Black, fewer than 4% Hispanic, whereas Blacks make up 12% and Hispanics over 18% of the total population. The situation improves as you go further down the marketing profession, with the proportion of diverse marketers rising to around 30%. But marketing still lags behind.
As Black History month nears its end, we need to think seriously about what this means . I would argue strongly that lack of diversity holds the profession back. The job of brand is to pull organizations forward, towards the future. Great marketing is about staying ahead of the trends, sparking new ideas, pulling together different strands from different places. It is in its essence, diverse. To be successful, marketing must be more diverse than the population as a whole. Without this, it will cease to be great, cease to be successful and cease to sell. CEOs already trust their CMOs much less than their CFOs or CIOs. They’ve lost respect for CMOs. CEOs are inventing other titles, because they see their marketers as behind the times.
There is some good news. Marketing is becoming more diverse. The senior marketers who make up the Marketing Hall of Fame’s Academy and Panel of Judges have this year elected Bozoma Saint John, Ann Mukherjee, Marc Pritchard and Antonio Lucio to be 2022’s inductees. Two women, two men and two women of color.
The bad news: marketing is diversifying too slowly. There is improvement at the top. 4.6% of CMOs were black in 2021, versus 3% in the previous 3 years. But the diversity of the entire profession has risen by only 1.4% sine 2018. The percentage of Hispanics and Asians has risen slightly. The percentage of Blacks remains the same.
I call on all marketers to commit to do their utmost to change this. It can be done. Look at what has happened with women. The proportion of marketers who are women has been rising every year for a decade , even though the higher the job level, the lower the percentage of women. The proportion of female to male CMOs has flipped since 2018 – from 45% female and 55% male, to 55% female and 45% male.
We need to work together to make marketing more diverse and inclusive, faster, by spotting, recruiting, mentoring and recognizing the unique contributions of marketers from different backgrounds, with different talents and the widest possible diversity of outlooks and approaches.