In the past few months I've met with around 300 journalists from a few dozen B2B magazines at around a half dozen publishers in several different cities.
And this is what I've seen:
Lots of them.
On occasion I've seen some Asian faces...perhaps as much as 1 or 2 percent of the editorial staff at some companies. I think I've met one editor with a South Asian name. I've run into two or three folks from the former Soviet Union (although they too were white.) I've met a few folks with Spanish-sounding last names. I don't think I've met anyone with a background from the Middle East other than some Israelis.
And, believe it or not, I've only seen two black people.
Now for the record, I'm a white guy. I am, in fact, a member of the most common demographic in publishing --I'm a middle-aged white guy.
So when someone like me winds up consistently shocked by the lack of diversity in B2B newsrooms, then we can probably assume that the situation is pretty severe.
Look -- I don't care what your politics are. And you shouldn't care about mine. Diversity should be your goal for business reasons as much as for political or ethical reasons. I've said before that given our increasingly global economy, business-to-business publishers need to hire journalists who speak languages other than English. I've suggested that ambitious journalists may want to expand their language skills. But even putting language skills aside, B2B publishers should be aiming for a more diverse workforce. Because -- and trust me on this -- it has become positively creepy to visit your newsrooms.
When I look out on a sea of all-white faces, the question that comes to mind is this:
What racist imbecile is doing the hiring here?
Now of course I realize that question is unfair. And of course I realize that there are thousands of factors other than racism that can create a monochromatic newsroom.
But that is the question that pops into my head.
And I would suggest that you should begin to wonder how often that same question enters the head of your customers, sources and advertisers.
Today's Wall Street Journal has a very interesting piece on the "business imperative" of diversity.
And if you're in New York this week, check out the Magazine Publishers of America's discussion of the multicultural audience.
tags: journalism, b2b, media, trade press, magazines, advertising, newsletters