Why Diverse Talent Is Key to Digital Advertising Success

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I’m Asian American, a woman, a proud immigrant, and the co-founder of a marketing technology company, which means I have a unique perspective when it comes to the need for diverse talent in our industry.

Diverse talent is necessary because the world is diverse.

If you only experienced the United States through current ads, you might get the impression we are composed of a largely homogenous population. Of course, that’s not the case. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2020, only 57.8% of the population identified as white alone. That is barely more than half of the population, indicating nearly half of the American public is of color. 

Advertisers need to speak to these diverse audiences and adtech companies need to enable them to do so if the digital advertising industry is to be successful at its core goal: connecting advertisers with consumers to build relationships and drive business outcomes.

Diverse and inclusive advertising is effective advertising

Now more than ever, people are hyper-aware of the media they’re consuming and place a high level of importance on diverse, equitable, and inclusive representation. But despite our extremely multicultural population, only 26% of African-Americans, 10% of Hispanics, and 3% of Asians feel represented in advertising. In turn, they aren’t going to respond to ads if they can’t relate to them. Part of this is likely due to the fact that the adtech industry is largely composed of white men, and as they are creating ads, they subconsciously implement their own experiences and biases into them. 

It’s all about personalization — consumers want to feel as though they are seeing a version of themselves on the screen. The only way to ensure your company is delivering that experience  successfully is by building a team that can speak to all the different experiences people face in life. That’s why when I was building my company, I made a point to hire individuals that would reflect the consumer markets we are targeting. Currently, 52% of our employees are women, 64% are POC, 43% of the executives are women of color, 60% of C-suite executives are people of color, and 50% of C-suite executives are women. 

In the adtech industry, innovation is of the utmost importance due to its complexities. However, like-minded people aren’t going to move the needle. True growth and creativity are driven by diversity. For example, if you look at the types of roles most tech organizations are looking to fill, you’ll likely find open positions for software engineers, data engineers, and data scientists. Just in those three technical roles alone, a majority of the applicants I end up hiring based on capability and skill are immigrants looking for H1B visas and green cards. Today, there are about 580,000 foreign workers currently on H1B visas in the U.S. Even in my personal hunt for new employees, some of the best technical talent I’ve come across has come from areas like Latin America, India, Uruguay, and Brazil.

Beyond the ethical need to uplift diverse employees, adtech companies profit when diverse teams are in place. By fostering an environment that values openness, transparency, and inclusivity, your employees will feel a stronger connection to the company, keeping them motivated to want to do good work. They will also bring more varied ideas to the table.

By extension, diversity comes with benefits for advertisers. Diverse adtech teams deliver creative and solutions that advertisers need to connect with diverse audiences. Rather than merely sympathizing with the actors in a commercial, when consumers see people who look and act like them, that shared experience translates to something stronger: empathy. And empathy builds the relationships marketing exists to foster. But advertisers can only successfully deliver that content if the companies they work with are able to offer diverse perspectives. 

Diana Lee is CEO and co-founder of Constellation.