Digiday research: 93% of survey respondents say they see white employees in senior leadership roles

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

As the agency world begins to face the stark racial inequities in their employee ranks, Digiday research conducted in July found that, in the eyes of their staffers, the racial gap remains wide and that agencies have a long way to go before being able to claim they are diverse and equitable places of employment.

A full 93% of respondents said they see white employees in their agency’s senior leadership team (vp and above) — 35% of respondents say their agency have at least some Black people in leadership roles, 31% say their agency has at least some Hispanic people in leadership roles, and 41% say that about Asian people.

This survey follows reports from agencies of all sizes that found their employee ranks to be woefully nondiverse. For example agency holding giant WPP reporetd in July that just 2.2% of the their U.S. executives are Black. For fellow holding company Omnicom, that number was 3% as of July.

The majority of the survey respondents are employees at either an independent agency or at an agency owned by a holding company.

Respondents identified themselves as 52% white, while 12% respondents described themselves as Black, 13% as Hispanic and 16% as Asian. Other races and multiple race respondents made up 3% and 4% of the survey respectively.

And in response to the diversity and equality gaps exposed in the months following the killing of George Floyd, respondents reported a wide variety of outreach and action on the part of their companies — the most common being internal statements in support of racial justice, with 81% of respondents reporting they’d received that type of communication. Public statements of support were the next common response with 66% of respondents reporting that effort from their companies.


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