Diversity, equity and inclusion in
Milwaukee’s creative sector

This research is the first systematic overview of racial inequity in Milwaukee’s creative sector.
For the Greater Milwaukee area, the findings are clear: People of color are significantly underrepresented in Milwaukee’s creative sector relative to their overall occupancy in the labor market. Our hope is that this report card will provide a baseline measure against which creative businesses can be challenged to build greater equity for the future of our city.

How do we define the creative sector?

For the purpose of this initiative, we define the creative sector as a family of occupations under the category of “arts, design, entertainment, sports and media occupations” (ADESM). While this category does not encompass all jobs that could be deemed creative and includes several that seem conceptually dissimilar, it is the closest approximation to genuinely “creative occupations” currently measured in national census data.


Public Relations


Writers & Authors



Designers & Marketers


Professional Athletes

Broadcast Engineers

Research summary by Dr. Marc Levine

This study of racial disparities in the creative occupations of Milwaukee and the nation’s largest metropolitan areas yields three main conclusions:


African American and Latinx workers are underrepresented, in relation to their presence in overall regional employment in Greater Milwaukee’s creative occupations. These disparities appear in both the larger occupational category of “arts, design, entertainment, sports and media” (ADESM), as well as in most of the occupations that are components of the ADESM category.


There are racial disparities in creative occupations in cities across the country. In all of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, except for a handful of cases, Blacks and Latinx are underrepresented in creative occupations, while non-Hispanic whites hold a disproportionate share of ADESM jobs, relative to their percentage of the overall labor force. Milwaukee ranks particularly poorly among the largest metros in the degree to which Blacks hold ADESM jobs, but overall, Milwaukee’s racial disparities are more or less in line with the national patterns. The problem, of course, is that racial minorities are underrepresented in creative occupations almost everywhere.


The data suggests a correlation exists between diversity in the creative sector of a metropolitan area and racial segregation in the region. The more segregated a metro area, the lower the likelihood that racial minorities are employed in creative occupations proportionate to their percentage of the labor force.

Why we’ve set a goal of 1,600
In raw numbers, how much growth in African American and Latinx employment in Milwaukee’s creative occupations would be necessary to eliminate racial disparities in employment in those jobs? Based on 2015-17 pooled employment data from the Census Bureau ACS survey, it would take an estimated increase of around 1,600 African American and Latinx employed in Milwaukee’s ADESM occupations for the workforce in those jobs to mirror the share of racial minorities in Milwaukee’s overall workforce.

Greater Together is a nonprofit organization that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in the creative industries in the Greater Milwaukee area. We embrace collaboration and creativity, and believe in inclusion, so everyone can participate, prosper and reach their full potential within the creative economy.

We are the originators of the Greater Together Challenge, a radically open competition of ideas focused on dismantling segregation in Greater Milwaukee.