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Lawyers Exploring Diversity at Advertising Agencies

As I've posted before, law firms aren't exactly at the forefront of promoting diversity in the workplace. But now advertising agencies are making firms look good when it comes to diversity -- though not in the way that you might expect, i.e. through PR campaigns. Instead, when the percentages of minorities employed by ad agencies are compared to those employed by other "persuasion" industries, including law firms, ad agencies rank at the bottom of the heap, according to this piece at Ad Age that reports on the preliminary results of an ongoing study of the ad industry's diversity record.

The study was commissioned by civil-rights attorney Cyrus Mehri (a classmate of mine from Cornell Law '88) whose firm, Mehri & Skalet, has been behind successful multi-million dollar class action employment discrimination suits against giants like Texaco, Coca Cola and Smith Barney. It preliminarily finds that African Americans comprise only 5.8 percent of advertising professionals, with only 3.2 percent in executive and managerial positions. By contrast, African Americans make up 9.5 percent of the professionals in persuasion industries such as media, law, philanthropy and high-end sales (though it's possible that those other industries help boost the diversity numbers at law firms).

Right now, Mehri's firm is merely studying the information and has not made any plans about a future course of action.  He emphasized that the study won't be ready for several weeks and his firm "does its homework before we come in with guns blazing." In the meantime, how long will law firms remain safe from these kinds of employment discrimination class actions?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 15, 2008 at 10:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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