Community Fund

Diversity in Advertising

We need to change the perception that advertising is a white profession.

Jonathan Mildenhall
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Nonprofits
The reason why

The challenge

I was the first ethnic minority to be taken on by McCann-Erickson back in 1990, and I didn’t really think that it was that big of a deal until I actually got into the industry and I saw such a homogenous culture. Everybody was white, middle class and had gone to the same universities. For the first 10 years of my career I was very cautious about challenging the advertising industry in the UK about its lack of diversity.

A major part of the problem is that good applicants from ethnic backgrounds simply do not exist in large enough numbers. Because there have been too few recruited in the past, there just aren't that many at middle and senior levels to recruit now. But, even now, advertising doesn't attract enough high-quality graduates from ethnic backgrounds. This is partly because it is still seen as a white profession.

The approach

The solution

In 2000, when I was promoted to Managing Director of TBWA London – which was at the time London’s seventh largest agency – I recognized that I had the opportunity, and more importantly the responsibility to use that platform as a place to challenge the industry and its complacency towards diversity and inclusion.

I’ve learned so much from really trying to build an understanding of communities that have had nothing to do with me. I’ve spent a lot of time with lots of different organizations and getting to know what diversity and inclusion means for different organizations. That experience makes me much more aware and much more powerful in having impactful and meaningful conversations.

Someone last supported this fund 1 month ago
Meet the creator

Jonathan Mildenhall

Jonathan Mildenhall is co-founder and CEO of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, where he helps high-profile startups and venture-capital firms in their creative and business strategy initiatives. Jonathan was named number 8 in Forbes' list of the world's most influential CMOs. He is the former Chief Marketing Officer of Airbnb and led the Coca-Cola Company’s marketing initiatives from 2007-13 as VP of global advertising and content excellence.

Mildenhall draws from his previous experiences to share strategies on creativity, corporate social responsibility, and branding with audiences around the world. A champion of accelerating diversity in advertising, he also equips audiences with genuine ideas and insights on the role of disruption, creativity, inclusivity, and purposeful branding in sparking positive change and uniting humanity around a movement.

In 2016, Mildenhall was named to the Financial Times’ top 100 Upstanding Leaders’ List, a collection of leading ethnic minority executives in the U.S. and U.K. He was also listed at No. 14 on the 2015 Power List by PR Week and previously made the “pink list” (now the Rainbow List) of the most influential LGBT figures in the U.K. by The Independent. Mildenhall was chair of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) Diversity Community in the mid-2000s, during which time he sought to increase the number of African-American advertising workers in the sector.

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The nonprofits

These nonprofits focus on building the pipeline for getting more diversity at all levels in the advertising industry.

  • Nonprofit

    College Track

    Our 10-year program puts students on the path to and through college because the research tells us this is the most powerful way for America’s low-income and first-generation students to achieve upward social mobility.

    • Location:

      Bay Area & Nationwide

    • Focus:

      Comprehensive college completion program

  • Nonprofit

    Marcus Graham Project

    Our purpose is to make sure that we don’t have to wait for 60 years to add more perspective to media that touches millions globally, and career opportunity to thousands of minority professionals across the United States and abroad.

    • Location:

      Nationwide

    • Focus:

      Diversity in media and marketing industry

  • Nonprofit

    She Runs It

    Founded in 1912 as AWNY, She Runs It passionately pursues a mission to pave the way for more women to lead at every level of marketing and media.

    • Location:

      New York & Chicago

    • Focus:

      Female Leaders in Marketing

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