12-09-2016  3:13 pm      •     

NEW YORK—Increasing diversity in the advertising industry hinges on holding agencies and their clients accountable, consumers getting more involved, and changing hiring policies, panelists said during a Black Enterprise magazine symposium last month.
The panel discussion, "Diversity on Madison Avenue: Myth, Reality, or Illusion?" was held in conjunction with the announcement of Black Enterprise's second annual list of the best companies for diversity, featured in the July issue. The magazine evaluated diversity programs, consulted with diversity experts and corporate diversity officers and conducted an extensive survey of more than 1,000 of the country's largest publicly traded companies as well as more than 50 leading global companies with significant U.S. operations.
Moderated by National Public Radio host Ed Gordon, the symposium served as a forum to highlight the challenges African Americans have working in the advertising industry and the small amount of advertising dollars allocated to minority-owned media.
Even as Black Enterprise celebrates the positive strides that companies are making in diversity, it shouldn't be forgotten that the companies are being recognized for improving practices that were once non-existent, said panelist, Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network.
"It is like when my mother would pat me on the head for doing something good after being spanked," he said.
African Americans must continue to hold the companies accountable to ensure they are doing better and make noise when they are not, Sharpton added.
Sharpton, along with Ken Smikle, founder and president of Target Market News; New York City Councilor Larry Seabrook; Monica Emmerson, executive director of DaimlerChrysler's corporate diversity office; and Allen Pugh, executive vice president and director of client services at advertising agency GlobalHue all shared their opinions of the current climate and what improvements need to be made.
"Corporate America has taken too much for granted," Smikle said. "The consumer relationship is buffered by what the ad agencies are doing with their clients."
Just as companies that don't hire and promote African Americans or advertise in Black media must be taken to task, Blacks should patronize companies that have a positive relationship with the community, Emmerson said.
"We must find out what companies are working on our behalf and support those companies," she said.
The Black Enterprise 40 Best Companies for Diversity list includes the following:
Aetna — Hartford, Conn.
Aflac Inc. — Columbus, Ga.
American Airlines Inc. — Fort Worth, Texas
American Express Co. — New York, N.Y.
ARAMARK — Philadelphia, Pa.
Bank of America — Charlotte, N.C.
BellSouth — Atlanta, Ga.
Citigroup — New York, N.Y.
Comerica Inc. — Detroit, Mich.
Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc.
DaimlerChrysler Corp. — Auburn Hills, Mich.
Darden Restaurants — Orlando, Fla.
Denny's Corp. — Spartanburg, S.C.
Eastman Kodak Co. — Rochester, N.Y.
Fannie Mae — Washington, D.C.
FedEx Express — Memphis, Tenn.
Ford Motor Co. — Dearborn, Mich.
General Electric Co. — Fairfield, Conn.
General Motors — Detroit, Mich.
IBM Corp. — Armonk, N.Y.
Kellogg Co. — Battle Creek, Mich.
Marriott International Inc. — Washington, D.C.
McDonald's Corp. — Oak Brook, Ill.
Merrill Lynch — New York, N.Y.
MGM MIRAGE — Las Vegas, Nev.
Pepco Holdings Inc. — Washington, D.C.
PepsiCo — Purchase, N.Y.
PG&E Corp. — San Francisco, Calif.
Pitney Bowes — Stamford, Conn.
Procter & Gamble — Cincinnati, Ohio
Sprint Nextel Corp. — Overland Park, Kan.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
The Coca-Cola Co. — Atlanta, Ga.
Toyota Motor North America Inc. — New York, N.Y.
United Parcel Service Inc. — Atlanta, Ga.
Verizon Communications Inc. — Basking Ridge, N.J.
Wachovia Corp. — Charlotte, N.C.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. — Bentonville, Ark.
Xerox Corp. — Stamford, Conn.
Yum! Brands Inc. — Louisville, Ky.
The Black Enterprise 10 Best Companies in Marketing Diversity include the following:
Altria Group — New York, N.Y.
DaimlerChrysler Corp. — Auburn Hills, Mich.
Ford Motor Co. — Dearborn, Mich.
General Motors Corp. — Detroit, Mich.
McDonald's Corp. — Oak Brook, Ill.
PepsiCo — Purchase, N.Y.
Procter & Gamble — Cincinnati, Ohio
Time Warner Inc. — New York, N.Y.
Toyota Motor North America Inc. — New York, N.Y.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. — Bentonville, AR
The complete special report on the best companies for diversity, including methodology and selection criteria, is available in the July issue of Black Enterprise, available on newsstands now.

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