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Minorities Feel Excluded from Business Decision-Making Process: Report



New AEF Inclusion Study Also Shows Gender Plays a Role

NEW YORK (September 20, 2021) — White, non-Hispanic executives feel more included in their companies’ business decision-making process than Ethnic Minority managers, according to a new study by the ANA Educational Foundation (AEF).

The study, “My Voice Matters: Linking Inclusion to Business Growth,” investigated levels of inclusion when making business decisions, determining career progression and growth, and evaluating a sense of belonging within the industry. The report queried respondents in three key areas linked to business performance: My Voice in the Room, My Voice in the Company, and My Voice in the Industry.

In terms of race and ethnicity, survey respondents were divided into two groups: White Non-Hispanic and Ethnic Minority. Across all dimensions, Ethnic Minority respondents indicated they did not feel included in the corporate decision-making process as much as their White Non-Hispanic counterparts. In many instances, the gap was statistically significant.

For example, 49 percent of White Non-Hispanic respondents said they felt comfortable sharing their perspective when important business decisions were being made in meetings compared to 36 percent of Ethnic Minority respondents. More dramatically, 41 percent of White Non-Hispanic respondents said their manager included their perspective in key decision-making processes compared to 28 percent of Ethnic Minority respondents.

Gender also played a role in corporate decision-making, albeit with minimal statistically significant differences between men’s and women’s levels of inclusion, according to the study.

For example, the study revealed that 44 percent of women and 48 percent of men said they felt comfortable sharing their perspective when important business decisions were being made in meetings. Similarly, 36 percent of women and 35 percent of men said they felt their voice was being “heard, respected, and considered when making business decisions in meetings.”

Despite those findings, there were disparities. Forty-three percent of women said they believe they have the same “chance of progressing upward at my company as everyone else at my level,” but only 29 percent of male respondents agreed.

“This important new study brings greater insight and understanding as to how differences in ethnicity, gender, age, status and income affect an individual’s feeling of inclusion,” said ANA CEO Bob Liodice. “These findings suggest that organizations must be increasingly focused to evolve human resource strategies to diminish inclusion related differences and optimize overall performance.”

The key goal of the study was to explore how to construct an inclusion framework to measure business results. The AEF embarked on a six-month journey to develop this framework with key stakeholders in the talent ecosystem, such as marketers, researchers, recruiters, DEI executives, ad agencies, and academics.


  • LGBTQ+ respondents reported a disconnect in being represented in company diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • Married people and those living with others said they believe they contribute more significantly to business decisions than those not married or living with others.
  • Older respondents (age 55–64) feel their voice is heard in the room, across the company, and in the industry, while people ages 45–54 feel more disenfranchised in their company.
  • Regarding salary, those in the highest salary band ($100,000 and up) said their voice in the room, company, and industry has more influence than those in the next salary band down ($75,000–$99,000).
  • With tenure, the data shows that when the 18–29 age group is invited into the room, they seem to be comfortable sharing their perspective. However, those in this younger age bracket are not invited as frequently into those discussions.
  • Other surveyed groups — military, disability, and brand versus agency — showed minimal statistically significant differences.

The AEF plans to make the study a centerpiece in helping companies benchmark their own inclusion efforts against industry norms. In addition to integrating the study’s findings throughout the ANA, the AEF also plans to work with other industry trade associations such as the 4A’s, the IAB, and the AAF to help elevate the report’s findings.


The AEF collaborated with Morning Consult to develop and administer the study in January 2020; results were available in March 2020. The survey was anonymous, with 268 marketing and advertising professionals responding.

The full report can be accessed here.


The AEF is the bridge that connects the advertising, marketing, and academic communities. We educate and inspire the next generation of talent while advancing the understanding of marketing and advertising in society. Created in 1983 and supported by its three constituencies, advertising, media, and marketing, the AEF is a 501(c)3 operating foundation. We create and distribute educational content to improve the understanding and appreciation of the societal role of advertising and marketing through our programs on college campuses across the country.


The mission of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is to drive growth for marketing professionals, brands and businesses, the industry, and humanity. The ANA serves the marketing needs of 20,000 brands by leveraging the 12-point ANA Growth Agenda, which has been endorsed by the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of U.S. and international companies, including client-side marketers, nonprofits, fundraisers, and marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). The ANA creates Marketing Growth Champions by serving, educating, and advocating for more than 50,000 industry members that collectively invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.

John Wolfe
Director of Communications
Office: 212.455.8011
Cell: 914.659.8663



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