Top 5 takeaways from ANA's diversity conference

Talk is cheap. Change is hard, but vital.

More than half of the U.S. population will be multicultural by 2030. 

Diversity is an infrastructure every company must build out now or face failure. It is that simple. 

The ANA Multicultural Diversity & Marketing Conference is one of many industry events that offers tools for firms to build this internal framework earnestly and with good results. 

Here are the five top takeaways from this 2019 get together which took place in San Diego this week.

1. 5G will unlock ‘tsunami of data’ among multicultural communities

The introduction of 5G will offer up a huge amount of data from multicultural communities which don’t have wifi access at home, according to GroupM. 

Nelson Pinero, senior partner and senior digital director at GroupM Multicultural, said to brace for a ‘tsunami of data’ when the faster internet service rolls out to the masses.

He said: "It’s really a great equalizer. A lot of people won’t have that wifi device at home, but all your data sets will come through your phone. It’s going to be amazing. There’s going to be a whole new range of data sets."

2. The attendees were actually diverse

Everything you need to know about diversity at a diversity conference can be found in the lunch room. It’s all too common to sit through an inspiring talk about one brand’s inclusion journey to break for food and confront an ocean of old, white, balding heads. Not this one. The majority of attendees looked nothing like me. 

3. The ANA made a jarring call for more men to enter and stay in advertising

In what many are calling tone deaf, the ANA’s 2019 Diversity Report stated that men aren’t entering the business and remaining in it at a rate they once did and leadership should be asking why. 

Bill Duggan, group EVP at the ANA, told Campaign US: "The industry’s highly female and I would argue that gender equality means equal.

"Our industry now is about two thirds female. At the entry and mid-level roles in particular it’s highly female. So I think we potentially have a male problem, and we need to figure a way to have more young men to enter the business and stay in the business."

Among ANA overall membership, 68 percent are female and 32 percent are male.

4. People are so very weary of talk about diversity

This isn’t new. But frustration that many are still paying lip service to diversity and not actually changing the paradigm was tangible.

Facebook’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, Antonio Lucio, kicked off his session by stressing how tired he was to have been speaking about this for the past decade.

"We’ve got to get moving, people," he said. "We say it time and time again: Diversity and inclusion needs to be considered a business imperative. It cannot be a business imperative for the HR department. It has to be a business imperative for the operating unit."

Talk is cheap. Change is hard, but vital. 

5. There’s just too many initiatives 

Chatter at the ANA was thick with concerns over the number of inclusion drives and a struggle of knowing which ones to attend to reap the most value. 

This conference overlapped with 3% in Chicago. I’d say I get an email about a diversity initiative at an agency or a brand every other day. 

There is way too much competition and not enough cooperation, with many racing for a headline and not for results. The industry is deep into diversity fatigue.

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