Talent from marginalized groups more likely to notice discrimination at work than their peers

In addition, less than half of respondents in a CMA survey have seen more diverse hiring.

This story has been updated from an earlier version, the details of which can be found at the bottom of the page.

An overwhelming majority of marketers believe diversity and inclusion are beneficial to the business, but new research from the CMA shows there is considerable divide between how men and women – as well as marginalized and non-marginalized groups – perceive discrimination in the industry.

The research, released as part of the CMA’s Diversity and Inclusion report, found 82% of women from a minority group held the view that perspectives like theirs were included in decision making, compared to 95% of non-minority men who thought the same.

And the report finds that gap widens when it comes to more serious issues of discrimination.

For instance, almost a third of respondents said they had witnessed staff from diverse backgrounds being talked down to or ignored in meetings. But looking only at non-minority men, 11% showed any awareness of such behaviors, compared to half of men from minorities who noticed that issue.

A similar trend is reflected in engagement, where only 17% of non-minority men said they had felt less engaged in the workplace due to systems of discrimination, but 52% of minority women and 53% of minority said they had felt that way.

Of the people polled by the CMA and research firm RKI, 56% identified as being from a “minority” group, including race or ethnicity (24% of “minority” respondents), cultural background or country of origin (23%), religion (12%), sexual orientation or gender identity (12%), having disability, chronic health issue or being neurodiverse (9%), with 6% saying “other.”

Though the statistics clearly point to a problem, 59% of marketers shared that people shy away from advocating for change out of fear they’d be seen as disruptive. That figure is even higher – 66% – among marginalized people.

Along with that data, the CMA offered some potential solutions to the issues it has found.

“Hiring people from diverse backgrounds is the first step to addressing inequities,” says John Wiltshire, president and CEO of the CMA. “Ensuring they are included, empowered and mentored to share their perspectives and fully participate in the workplace is the next critical step.”

Despite that, and the number of companies that pledged to improve their diversity, less than half (47%) of respondents said their companies were hiring more diverse talent.

Diversity at the senior level is vital to creating a more diverse workplace, according to the data. Nearly three quarters of marketers said they are most likely to feel engaged at companies with diverse leadership. However, only 23% of respondents said those roles were well diversified at their own companies.

“To create safer and stronger workplaces, we need more people with diverse backgrounds in senior roles,” says Wiltshire.

Other steps organizations were taking: 43% of respondents said their companies had formed diversity and inclusivity committees, task forces or similar groups; and 40% said their companies were developing formal training and management programs geared toward diversity and inclusion.

The survey, which was in the field over a six-week period ending in January, polled 425 people. It is the latest on the topics of diversity and inclusion in the industry. Last month, the organization released data showing women of colour feel less welcome in the industry, despite a pledge made almost a year ago by more than 450 signatories to take steps to improve representation and diversity in marketing and advertising.

Update: An earlier version of this story used the terms “BIPOC” and “white” in place of “minority” and “non-minority,” which the CMA used in its report. Following the example of several style guides meant to facilitate more inclusive language in news coverage, strategy avoids using the term “minority” in its stories because it can be seen as an exclusionary term and is unnecessarily ambiguous. However, under the CMA’s methodology, the term “minority” also included LGTBQ people, religious minorities and people with disabilities and chronic health issues, as outlined above. The story has been updated to accurately reflect the study’s findings, and strategy regrets the misunderstanding.