Black advertising employees report 'unsafe' work environments, survey reveals

Report asked UK and US professionals how industry was responding to Black Lives Matter.

Nike: cited as Black Lives Matter ally
Nike: cited as Black Lives Matter ally

Half of black employees in the advertising industry report feeling unsafe in their workplace, a survey has revealed. 

The findings come from the Black Lives Matter for Marketers report by The Current, a collective of strategists who aim to boost equality within the industry. They surveyed professionals from the UK and the US to understand how marketers and advertisers were progressing on racial equality. 

When asked "Is your workplace safe for black people?" – meaning whether the business had created an inclusive environment – 53% of black employees said no and 47% said yes. There was also a difference in perception among ethnicities: 78% of Asian, 86% of Latino and 93% of white employees agreed that their workplaces were safe for black people.

One respondent said: "We as black people enter the workplace knowing what we can and cannot say. We have to check our mannerisms at the door, speak a certain way and not be true to ourselves. This is particularly obvious to those who are entry level or just starting out in their careers."

Where organisations had black leadership, employees tended to perceive their workplaces as more inclusive. Ninety-two per cent of people who said that their company had black decision-makers reported those environments to be safe for black people. 

However, 64% of employees in the UK said their company had no black decision-makers at all. 

Brands are also not doing enough to demonstrate their commitment to racial equality, the study suggested. Fifty-three per cent of participants could name only three brands that were allies to the Black Lives Matter movement, with 40% choosing Nike as the top ally and 17% naming Ben & Jerry’s. 

Advertising and marketing are among the most racially segregated industries, the report added, citing figures from Bloomberg. In the US, advertising and promotions managers ranked sixth on a list of occupations with the highest percentage of white workers, after veterinarians, farmers, fundraisers, aircraft pilots and writers/authors.