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IAB Education Foundation Reveals Plan to Strengthen Diversity in the Digital Media and Marketing Industry Candidate Pool by 50% & Increase Employee Diversity and Retention by 25%

Releases Report That Encapsulates Learnings from ‘Voices United’ Multi-City Listening Tour & Establishes iDiverse Initiative to Forestall Imminent Threat of Lagging Diversity Among Workforce Candidates

Features New IAB & EY Data Projecting 47% Increase in Demand for Skilled Job Candidates in the Digital Advertising Industry, Upholding Expectations of a Major Talent Shortage

NEW YORK, NY (September 29, 2015) — “The Diversity Dividend and the Looming Skills Gap in the Interactive Media Industry,” a report released today by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the IAB Education Foundation, summarizes the current state of the interactive media and marketing workforce and reveals next steps the Foundation is taking to educate, welcome and sustain a growing industry that embraces racial, gender, economic and cultural diversity. Through its efforts, the Foundation intends to establish a dedicated initiative called iDiverse, which will train 2,000 entry-level candidates, increase the diversity of the ecosystem’s candidate pool by 50 percent and increase total employee diversity and retention statistics by 25 percent by 2020.

The publication crystallizes the findings from “Voices United,” a four-month, multi-city diversity workshop and listening tour co-led by AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong, who serves as IAB Education Foundation Chairman of the Board, and Freada Kapor Klein, Founder of the Level Playing Field Institute and Co-Chair of the Kapor Center for Social Impact.

“For the first time in U.S. history, the majority of K-12 students are ‘minorities’; this is our future workforce,” said Armstrong. “Collectively, we need to connect with all of our customers, and diversifying the industry is the only solution. The establishment of iDiverse will put the digital media and marketing arena on a path of growth in lockstep with our audience.”

“Companies who aren’t committed to diversifying their workforce today will suffer in terms of sustainability and profitability long-term,” said Klein. “The dialogue that surfaced during our tour illustrates the needs and nuances that need to be addressed to diversify, extend, and sustain the talent pipeline.”

The paper also features findings from a national research study with EY (Ernst & Young) to determine specific current and future workforce needs in the digital advertising and ad technology industries. The study estimates that 25,000 total jobs will be added to the industry across departments in the next two to four years, representing growth of 47 percent – calling for candidates with solid backgrounds in math, technology, science, and programming. Currently, however, schools are not emphasizing these areas enough in their curriculum to develop the much-needed talent pool.

In the immediate future, the IAB Education Foundation and iDiverse plan to build relationships with science, technology, engineering, and math-focused nonprofit organizations serving underserved populations to attract a more diverse applicant pool, and partner with educators online and on-the-ground to recruit, train, and qualify candidates who reflect the consumer base of our member companies. Additional strategic agenda items include:

  • Developing curriculum for entry-level positions in sales, ad operations, data analytics, and marketing
  • Recruiting industry companies to serve as employers of graduates from these programs
  • Creating a first-ever entry-level digital job examination to be administered at the conclusion of the training
  • Providing a library of best practices as well as tips and strategies for retention
  • Conducting additional research to measure levels of diversity across many different under-represented groups in the digital advertising and technology industries
  • Forming a task force to study unconscious bias in recruiting, candidate pipelines, and diversity benchmarks, among other issues

“The most diverse communication medium in history needs to reflect the full breadth of its users,” said Michael Theodore, Senior Vice President, Learning and Development, IAB, and General Manager of the IAB Education Foundation. “Creating iDiverse to expand our nonprofit, education, and funding partners will be a critical next step towards building a qualified workforce that will reflect the diversity of our industry’s consumer base.”

The mission of IAB Education Foundation is to promote the increasingly skilled and diverse workforce as well as grow the media and marketing capabilities of companies by developing a professional and diverse workforce that reflects the customer through education, training, and certification. Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, the Foundation is developing curricula and certification programs in fast-growing areas of employment within digital media and advertising companies, including digital advertising sales, advertising operations and data analytics. The Foundation is equipped to take tax-deductible contributions from individuals and companies and will be funded from a variety of sources including corporate and individual supporters, donations, workforce development grants, and the IAB itself.

To download “The Diversity Dividend and the Looming Skills Gap in the Interactive Media Industry” report, please go to And, to learn more about iDiverse, please visit

About the IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. It is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. Together, they account for 86 percent of online advertising in the United States. Working with its member companies, the IAB develops technical standards and best practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. The organization is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., the IAB advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City and has a West Coast office in San Francisco.

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg
[email protected]

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