The 2023 State of the Industry report is paramount for many reasons, but what makes it truly unique and impactful are the historical finds coupled with this year’s high BIPOC employee participation rate, which significantly exceeds industry demographics.


The BrandLab’s top takeaways and areas of focus from the report are:


  1. Stagnating diversity: The marketing and advertising industry is not nearly as diverse as the general population, and showing overall growth in diversity.
  2. Divergent Experiences: BIPOC and White employees have very different lived experiences in the workplace.
  3. Intent vs. Impact: There is still a gap between the positive intent of organizations and the real impact on all employees, with a focus on BIPOC employees.

Together, we can impact these areas.

We can change the face and voice of the marketing and advertising profession and create workplaces of inclusivity and belonging where people of color can launch and sustain careers.

Please join us in this work – we can do it together by taking three steps.

Step One: Dive into the report to gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of our industry.

Step Two: Reflect on the actions you, your organization, or your team can take to drive meaningful change.

Step Three: Put those reflections into purposeful action.

If you require guidance or support along the way, The BrandLab is here to assist you every step of the journey.

Get in touch –

  • “Organizations must consider the experience their employees are having outside of the four walls of the workplace. Employees bring that experience to work with them every day, especially employees of color who may be grappling with something as basic as their physical safety in the city where they live and work.”

    Tiffani Daniels - Managing Director, Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity

  • “The challenge of sustaining diversity (of identity and culture) in our industry falls on the entire advertising and marketing community to address and resolve. The BrandLab's SOTI research highlights the importance of changes in our ways of working, leadership styles, and organizational listening to affect belonging and business success.“

    Myron King - Chief Integration Officer at VMLY&R

  • “So often our emphasis is on hiring and entry level pipeline development, which is crucial. However, organizations must not lose sight of representation at the executive level. Having senior leaders for entry level BIPOC employees to look up to is important and can support retention efforts.”

    Tiffani Daniels - Managing Director, Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity

  • "What gets measured gets done. If you want to make an impact and build an inclusive organization, the behaviors and initiative must start with leadership at the top and filter down into the rest of the organization. Hiring people of color is not enough; organizations must create space for diversity at all levels of the organization."

    Bree Maddox - Human Resources Manager, Blue Horizon Energy

  • Representation is what is most important to inspire the participation and engagement of all communities in our sector. For true diversity, equity and inclusion to come to life and for our unique life experiences to be part of the stories we tell, we need true authentic representation.”

    Lorenz Esguerra - The BrandLab Board Member, Fractional C-Level Leader

  • “As a creative worker, I believe the creative thinking process comes from different experiences, cultures, and identities because it forms us and our thinking process. If we want to encourage people to be creative, in other words, think differently, then we need to have a place encouraging people to be comfortable with being who they really are first.”

    Sky (haneul) Seo - The BrandLab Alumni, Creative Associate at Bader Rutter

  • “Observation isn't an accusation. Looking at our industry through TBL's SOTI research lens is essential to building meaningful strategies for inclusive change.”

    Myron King - Chief Integration Officer at VMLY&R

  • “This report is not only a snapshot of where the industry is, it’s a call to action to every leader and decision-maker. Marketers and advertisers are not prepared to insightfully reflect the nuances of culture back at a society where so many voices are not represented.”

    Tiffani Daniels - Managing Director, Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity

  • "Creating an environment where all employees belong and thrive does not happen overnight. It requires a great amount of intentionality and accountability at all levels. In addition, there needs to be multiple touchpoints, from prospective to tenured employee, to ensure employees feel seen and belong from every phase of their employee experience."

    Delphanie Daniels - The BrandLab Board Member, Strategic Community Engagement Director at Best Buy Co, Inc.



The State of the Industry (SOTI) report is designed to help us measure demographic and attitudinal changes related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging across the marketing and advertising industry.

This research is vital to ensure we’re all making progress toward our joint mission of changing the face and voice of the industry.

The report primarily gathers data within the three markets The BrandLab serves — Twin Cities, Kansas City, and Milwaukee.


Almost 10 years ago, thanks to our committed partners who answered our call, The BrandLab released our first SOTI report, which has been updated twice since then. The 2023 report, the fourth iteration, dives deeper so readers can learn more about both the quantitative and qualitative realities within the industry.

Interested in viewing past SOTI reports? Download below.

Who is involved in crafting the 2023 report?

The BrandLab team is partnering with Fusion Hill, a women-owned research, strategy, and creative agency based in Minneapolis.

For questions, reach out to


At present, this survey is focused on marketing and advertising professionals. We collect both organization-wide demographic data and individual employee responses.

Future versions may include additional partners of The BrandLab and organizations that surround and shape the industry, including community partners, school partners, and current BrandLab participants.

Watch our 2023 State of the Industry General Population Debrief

Minneapolis skyline photo by Kevin Nalty on Unsplash.

Milwaukee skyline photo by Matthew Schultz on Unsplash.

Kansas City skyline photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash.