Scott McDonald Offers a Chance to Do More Than Research

February 4, 2021

Berkeley alum Scott McDonald believes in workplace diversity, and he’s put time, effort, and money behind that conviction. A ’73 sociology grad, Scott has had a long and successful career in advertising at leading global media companies like Time Warner and Conde Nast. Currently the CEO and President of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), he and his colleagues recently established a charitable foundation – the ARF Workforce Initiative for Diversity and Excellence (ARF WIDE) – to improve workforce quality and diversity in the advertising, media, and research-analytics industries.

“We started laying the groundwork for ARF WIDE about two years ago,” explains McDonald. “Its mission is a need that ought to be self-evident. Studies have shown that diverse companies perform better and are much more in touch, but those studies also show that change has come too slowly.”

To help bring about that change, ARF WIDE has developed a national pilot program to invest in students from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds, encourage them to complete school through scholarship support, and help them explore careers in research and data analytics through access to educational, mentoring and networking programs. Finally, ARF WIDE will give them real-world work experience through paid internships and apprenticeship placements in affiliated companies. 

“This is a very direct form of support for diversity,” says McDonald, “but of course it is something that only has effect over the long haul, student by student by student.”

UC Berkeley is one of four schools invited to participate in the pilot. Four Berkeley students will receive scholarship funding, including access to ARF's trainings, seminars, and conferences. ARF WIDE will also work to facilitate hiring and internships via their 400+ member network of leading companies.

Establishing ARF WIDE was a natural extension of McDonald’s own experience at Berkeley: “As the son of a truck driver father and factory worker mother, and as a first-generation college attendee, I’m highly sensitive to the mission of the public university as a mechanism for social mobility, equalizing opportunities, and promoting meritocracy. Attending UC Berkeley was transformative for me since it gave me access to so many promising areas of research and personal and professional development.”

Over the years, McDonald has continually given back to the College of Letters & Science, providing support for the sociology department and the L&S Leadership Fund, acting as an advisor to the Social Science Matrix and Social Sciences Charter Hill Society, and many other activities. He cares about students, and about making business inclusive, equitable and, ultimately, more successful. Of ARF WIDE’s efforts, he says, “This is a chance for those in my field to do more than research. We can make a difference. And we can make a difference right now.”