4A's and Howard University Team Up

Partnership Brings More Focus, Resources to Diversity Issue

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Lost amid the news last week that the American Association of Advertising Agencies conducted a Leadership Conference that embraced digital and was actually informational and provocative was the announcement from Howard University and the 4A's that they were partnering up to tackle the advertising industry's diversity problems.

According to the press releases (Howard's is here; 4A's is here), the 4A's "has pledged to provide industry leadership and financial support in developing the Center for Excellence in Advertising at Howard University for curriculum, research and programming and assisting the university in raising an additional $750,000 annually to support the Center." That on top of the $250,000 kicked in by the association will mean $1 million will be devoted to the program. Some critics (you know who you are!) will undoubtedly point out that $1 million is chump change compared to the amount of money that changes hands every day in the ad industry. But it's $1 million more than currently being devoted to the program. And, more important, it brings the weight of Howard University to the situation.

For those readers who don't know, Howard is one of the most prestigious of the historically black universities in the U.S. and reportedly produces the most black Ph.D.s in the country. The Center for Excellence in Advertising will be housed in the John H. Johnson School of Communications.

The communications school's dean, Jannette L. Dates, said, "We're excited about this partnership because Howard University is committed to more than just talk. We're about developing leaders for America and the global community."

While we can all agree that debate and discussion to "raise awareness" are good things, it's always better to hear someone like Dates pledge to "more than just talk." So what will Howard University be doing with the $1 million and whatever other funds it gets?

The stated mission of the new program is (quoting from the release):
  • To provide professional development, leadership training and resources to increase and strengthen the impact of individuals of color in middle- and senior-level management across all disciplines in advertising
  • To provide the advertising industry with research, analysis, strategic and tactical consulting, and policy input to attain diversity and inclusion goals and objectives
  • To benchmark best practices and solutions to increase the quantity and quality of persons of color in the industry
  • To increase the retention and management-promotion opportunities for people of color.
More like this, please!
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