Digiday Research: Nonwhite media and marketing professionals see a much less liberal industry than their white peers

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 →

The media and marketing industries are regarded — and generally regard themselves — as bastions of liberal thought and values. But non-white professionals in the space regard both industries as a lot less liberal than their white counterparts do, according to a Digiday Research survey.

Digiday polled 156 professionals working in the media and marketing industries in late September on a number of topics pertaining to politics and their place in their respective workplaces and cultures. Thirty respondents identified themselves as something other than white. Asians comprised the largest share of those respondents, followed by Hispanics, though no single group of non-white professionals answered in statistically significant numbers.

Disparities were greatest in how agencies are perceived. While white respondents overwhelmingly regarded the agency world as liberal, less than 60% of nonwhite respondents described agency culture that way. In fact, nearly one fifth of nonwhite respondents described agency culture as at least somewhat conservative (none of the survey respondents described agencies as “strongly conservative”).

By contrast, about the same percentage of white (62%) and nonwhite respondents (57%) described publisher and media company culture as liberal. The difference was in the matter of degree: Close to 40% of nonwhite respondents described publisher culture as “strongly liberal,” while just 13% of white respondents did.

And as was the case with agencies, a far greater share of nonwhite respondents said that the culture at media companies is conservative.

The respondents’ own political leanings may account somewhat for the disparities. Asked where on the political spectrum they landed themselves, both white (79%) and nonwhite respondents (84%) overwhelmingly described themselves as liberal, though a greater share of nonwhite respondents — 44% — describe themselves as “strongly liberal” than their white counterparts — 37%.


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