Addressing an industry-wide lack of representation is at the core of this new partnership.

The First Step in a Long Journey

Long considered to have high barriers to entry without ample experience or the right education or connections, the marketing industry has recently started taking significant steps to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. According to a report from the Association for National Advertisers (ANA), the industry has seen a steady increase in diversity over the past four years. The ANA reported that in 2019 ethnic minorities accounted for 27.6% of the industry’s workforce. In 2021, they accounted for 30.8%. This, however, is still a far cry from the overall US population, where ethnic minorities make up 42.2% of the population.

In Milwaukee, the total non-white population is 32.5%. While there isn’t any data specific for the Milwaukee marketing community, most in the industry would agree that representation falls significantly below that mark.

So how do you attract more diversity to your industry? Get people interested at a young age while they are still deciding what they want to do for a living.


Enter: The BrandLab

Founded in Minneapolis with offices in Kansas City and Milwaukee, The BrandLab  focuses on changing the face and voice of the marketing industry. They quickly realized that attracting new people is challenging if they don’t know about your industry. With that in mind, The BrandLab has initiated programs in all three cities to attract youth to the marketing community at both the high school and college levels.

At Nelson Schmidt, we strive to promote diversity, equity and inclusion across four key aspects: the individual, the agency, the industry and the community. When The BrandLab opened an office in Milwaukee in 2021, Nelson Schmidt jumped at the chance to partner with the organization.

This year, Nelson Schmidt and The BrandLab will be hosting a cohort of six high school students from various schools in the Milwaukee area for a hands-on internship to expose them to the marketing and advertising industry and help them take the next step on their career paths.


Reaching Out and Ramping Up

Nelson Schmidt is one of a select group of agencies and brands in the Milwaukee area working with The BrandLab to move toward a marketing communications workforce that truly represents the diversity of our communities, our clients and the customers those brands serve. We know change won’t happen overnight, but we’re committed to these efforts in the long run, because a more diverse industry is a stronger one.