The Toy Industry; Where Are the People of Color?

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Why are there so few Hispanic-Americans and African-Americans in the toy industry? 
Whenever I attend toy industry functions in the US, I am always struck by how few people of color I see.  It makes me wonder if, when we gather,  the lack of diversity makes us somewhat color blind to the changes taking place in America’s children. 

That thought struck me again and hard when I reviewed the latest census figures.  Here is how the Los Angeles Times reports it in an article by Michael Muskal, “Census Bureau: Minority births outnumbered whites for first time:The United States has reached a historic tipping point — with Latino, Asian, mixed race and African American births constituting a majority of births for the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau  reported Thursday.”  The article goes on to state:

The racial and ethnic shift was an expected, but still important, turning point for the nation, who’s economic and political elites remain essentially white and primarily male. The new numbers indicate that the upcoming generations will be more diverse and could have an increasingly broader view of issues … There will also be cultural changes — as there have been in recent years, with foods, music and ideas from Latino cultures, for example, spreading into the mainstream.

If you look at specific states, 60.3% of births in California and 55.2% of those in Texas were to

minorities.  These are two of the largest states in the country.

So here are some questions: 

·         Do you agree about the toy industry’s lack of diversity? 

·         Are there people of color, who do not yet attend shows and conferences, coming up through the ranks?

·         If you do agree, does it or does it not make a difference in how we market, package and design? 

·         Do we need to reach out to non-Caucasian groups? 

·         What do you think?



12 thoughts

  1. we are here but its gets frustrating at times seeking manufactures here in
    the states to accept your ideas and to have your patent license even
    when the say they like it. I myself have two inventions ive been trying to have license for some time now. Itell you about one .its a interactive doll design to have children waking up iin the morning for school and other
    appointments with a smile on there face .It also has other functions. if there
    are a manufacture out there thats interested please contact me.
    Alfred Gistarb
    708-941 4930

  2. Being a black toy/game game designer like myself is rare in this industy. I agree diversity and invitation to other groups can lead to mega ideas. There is alot of creative minds in this world but we all don’t get the same opportunity to display it.

  3. Saw a lot of diversity at our WIT (Women In Toys) booth at the NY Toy Fair. Among the new members, of which I am one, we had American diversity as well as several countries represented. It was encouraging!

  4. That’s a good question. I’ve never tried to “lead” with my race, nor do I want to be hired because I’m Black. It may be many of us are quietly working in the background and not highly visible.
    I worked for Hasbro, Inc for 7 years and I did recognize a lack of diversity in the creative industries.

  5. Hey Richard!
    Would you please stop posting articles like this?!?
    The longer it takes the rest of the toy industry to catch on, the more money I make at!
    PS: I don’t remember exact numbers, but I think those census figures also indicate that most Hispanics checked the Hispanic box and the White box, (Hispanic is not a race, it’s a culture.) I think it was 40% checked the Hispanic and ‘other than white’ boxes.

  6. Hi everyone
    I am a Latin junior toy designer; and definitely not agree by the lack of diversity. I think we (latin people) are too much “Americanized”, so the user want to get cool toys and that mean US, or when we try to include cultural toys is so difficult because need to be cheap for be valorated, but in the other hand you get the Chineese cheap toys so that tends to eliminate companies that try to impose their own style based on culture things, so the children´s tend to adapt to international toys.

  7. I remember attending an inter-company games development meeting, with companies from France, UK, NL, Germany, Belgium and Spain. 40 attendees, 3 women, no other minorities (well, yes, as one of those 3 girls I felt like a minority). I also remember how difficult it was to put a mixed race girl on a french game packaging – “it won’t sell”. This was 15 years ago, and if change has occurred, it isn’t very visible.

  8. Howard Bennett who was with Small World Toys and black worked his way up in the company. Howard today has his own company Holly Toys. It was a big advantage for him being black. My customers would love to give Howard business. I do not agree with you. The toy business is open to all.

  9. Richard
    Here in California we have very diverse ethnic groups in the Design, Engineering and Packaging professions. Where many Asian, some Latino and some Blacks work. Also the UK, Western and Eastern Europeans are represented. Marketing and Upper Management continues to be mostly White.
    Peter Santaw

  10. I can’t think this is an issue just for USA, the point can be generalised elsewhere.
    There are areas of our economy where non-caucasians are better represented, and I am certainly thinking the new media area, electronics, consultancy, etc.
    Is the staffing in the major brands not representative, these guys are usually more able to balance their inputs to make sure that they address all sectors.
    Or is this just another manifestation of the points that you were making about attendances at the major movie releases.
    Sorry, more questions because I don’t have suggestions, still less answers.

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