America is a diverse country and grows even more diverse each decade. By 2040, ethnically diverse groups will constitute the majority. Marketers and brand leaders are coming to terms that in order to keep pace with their market share and achieve revenue growth, they must not only understand this trend. but acknowledge and embrace these diverse cultures and their values.
Direct Digital Holdings (DDH) (stock symbol: DRCT) has become the ninth black-owned company in the U.S. to go public. As a company serving both advertisers and publishers, we are committed to meeting the needs of America’s diverse population. Our primary objective is to assist our clients in effectively reaching and engaging with all consumers in meaningful ways. To achieve this goal, we firmly believe in the importance of building a diverse workforce. We prioritize recruiting, training, and nurturing a team that embraces diversity, as we have found it to be the most effective approach in fulfilling our mission. It is also profitable; revenue in fiscal year 2022 was $88.0 million, an increase of $49.9 million, or 131%, over the $38.1 million in fiscal year 2021.
Recruiting people to work for us often means “selling” our industry to talented people from communities who wouldn’t normally consider digital advertising a career choice. It also means offering extensive training and developing paths for growth.
Our investments have paid off. At present, DDH’s workforce is 64% women and 34% multicultural. “My goal has always been to build a company that looks like America. Our country is roughly 40% ethnic diversity with 66% female, so we are getting very close,” explained Mark D. Walker, founder and CEO of DDH. And thanks to that focus on training, DDH employees are highly productive, generating more than $1.2 million per employee, more than 2x greater than the national average of $448K per employee.
Why Digital Advertising Matters
Digital advertising is a critical sector of the U.S. economy, and it is projected to generate $271 billion in revenue this year. More than that, it is a critical voice in our culture. Consider the impact of Nike’s decision to feature Colin Kaepernick when he was receiving criticism from every direction.
Interestingly, the advertising industry consortium, Ad Net Zero, recognizes this influence our industry has on society, and has asked advertisers to “harness advertising’s power to support consumer behavior change” in order to address the climate crisis. We can — and should — do the same to support the consumer’s embrace of all the communities that make up this country.
Future Proofing Advertising
When people join a company, they bring their culture, values and worldview to it. Those attributes influence the products and services they develop to improve the work or lives of their customers. A diverse workforce will inherently understand the needs of a diverse population and speak to customers in terms that resonate with them. A diverse workforce, therefore, is a smart strategy for success today, as well as to future-proof any brand.
DDH has benefited directly from the diversity of its workforce. “I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team in the makeup of the company. But most importantly, I think it shows that diversity fuels outsized growth and profitability. It’s a powerful statement of what we can accomplish when we work together,” said Walker.
What Success Demands
Digital advertising is a highly influential component of the American economy. Each day we see thousands of messages as we go about our lives, all of which contribute to a culture and national dialogue. Leaders in our space must recognize the power we have to affect change and blunt the polarization that is harming our society. And we must do this as we focus on our most important responsibility, which is to help our clients build a sustainable brand that will meet the needs of their customers today and tomorrow.