Diversity and Inclusion

It’s time to do better.

U.S. advertising has long served as a mirror to a white male cis-gendered society. It is up to all of us to play a role in dismantling the longstanding issue of diversity, inclusion, and equity in the advertising industry, and within our country as a whole. As an organization, we recognize that we are by no means experts, but we are committed to doing better. We call on all of our members to continue to do the work to drive change.

Clear definitions lead to alignment and consistency.

[Who’s in the room?]


Diversity is quantitative. It’s the composition of the different types of people represented in your advertising campaigns and the members that make up your team.

[Do diverse folks experience themselves as leaders and decision-makers?]


Inclusion is a sense of belonging. Inclusion addresses people with different identities feeling and/or being valued, leveraged, and welcomed within a given setting. You can have a diverse team, but that team might not feel welcomed, valued, or included.

In a study conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) of more than 13,700 members who responded to the question of ethnicity, 25% identified as an ethnicity other than white. Asians (9%), made up the largest non-white ethnicity, followed by Hispanic/Latino (8%), and African-American/Black (6%), and lastly, the remaining 2% identifying as “other.”

These statistics should raise a red flag to folks across the advertising industry, especially as the gap continues to swell. CEOs, employers, creative directors, and employees should be making a collective effort to diversify their teams and put inclusion at the forefront. Taking action to leverage marginalized groups is long overdue, but it’s not too late to start today.


This work requires transparency and accountability. As an organization, we recognize our own shortcomings and are dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion within our membership, leadership, and Board of Directors.


The reality is, there’s a lot of work to be done when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in advertising. How are you equitably engaging misrepresented folks as decision-makers in your process? Below are a few action items to consider implementing:

  • Audit your current hiring process. Bring diversity into your hiring decisions.
  • Educate yourself. Below you will find access to an array of resources.
  • Make a measurable, and public commitment to improve representation at all levels of agency staffing, especially Senior and Leadership positions.
  • Facilitate open, honest dialogue, where every voice is heard.
  • Start a Diversity and Inclusion Committee within your organization. Require all leadership to be active participants in company Diversity and Inclusion initiatives.
  • Leaders: be open, and ready to be challenged.
  • Partner with diverse organizations.

And the list doesn’t end there.


Utilizing these resources will not result in a certificate of ‘official allyship’. Until white supremacy is completely dismantled there will be continued work to do. This is just the start.

Ongoing Learning

The Great Unlearn by Rachel Cargle:
Rachel Cargle creates resources and critical discourse to aid in unlearning. The Great Unlearn is an online learning platform rooted in providing resources and critical discourse to aid in unlearning. The Great Unlearn platform is used to both provide education and inspire meaningful action.

Become a Patreon member and access monthly syllabi, reading lists, and live lectures from experts and academics covering topics from the History of Race and America’s Birth story, to Black eco-feminism and much more.
Anti-Racism Club
Weekly edition of thoughtfully curated programming designed specifically for non-black allies.

Get Involved

Do you have a desire to learn and help educate others? Have a passion for bettering advertising? Then you will be the perfect fit for our Diversity & Inclusion Committee! As the Unified Voice of Advertising, it is our responsibility to ensure that the industry promotes diversity and inclusion in everything we do. If you want to help us develop the programs and communications to help further this mission, then reach out to diversity@aaflouisville.org.

Get Involved