The challenge the advertising and marketing industry faces in overcoming deep-rooted male dominance has been confirmed in the sector’s first ever Census, which exposes a profession still led by public school-educated white men who seemingly squeeze every last drop out of their highly stressed workforce.
Organised by the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA, with support from other trade bodies including the DMA, the “All in Census” took place on March 10 to March 22 this year, gathering 16,016 responses. It asked UK advertising professionals – whether client, agency or supplier side – to share experiences in the workplace in an effort to collect a unique industry dataset.
Designed to tackle concerns around diversity and inclusion, the Census is part of a long-term plan being driven by the Inclusion Working Group to build a better workplace through an action plan outlined in the All in Report.
Major areas of concern include the findings that just 1% of black talent are in C-suite positions, compared to 3% in the general UK population, while disabled talent are underrepresented (just 9% vs 20% working age population) with 22% likely to leave their organisation compared to the industry average of 9%.
Meanwhile, people whose parents had professional backgrounds are significantly overrepresented (64% vs 37% national average) and 20% of UK advertising professionals attended fee paying schools compared to a national average of just 8%.
In addition, mental health is a problem across the workforce with nearly a third (31%) of the workforce stressed or anxious.
When it comes to gender issues, over half (53%) of women who took parental leave felt it disadvantaged their career, while a 10% pay gap emerged at senior manager level and above.
Some 12% of women have experienced sexual discrimination yet less than 2 in 5 (38%) feel able to report discrimination against others, dropping to 26% when reporting personal discrimination.
However, it is not all doom and gloom as 83% of participants believe their company is actively taking steps to be more inclusive.
Meanwhile, ethnic minorities make up 16% of the UK advertising workforce, compared to 12% in UK working population and this level increases to 24% of 18- to 24-year-olds.
In response to the findings, the All In Report has pinpointed key actions for the industry to make swift progress, specifically:
– On improving the experience and representation of black talent, the rapid adoption of the newly launched BRiM (Black Representation in Marketing) framework, which is powered by a group of the world’s largest advertisers and agency partners and leading members of the black community, as well as industry diversity, equity, and inclusion experts.
– On supporting disabled professionals, the immediate audit of websites across the industry to ensure full accessibility online.
– On encouraging talent from working class backgrounds, the uptake of the Social Mobility Commission Toolkit for the creative industries.
In addition, a comprehensive directory of inclusion schemes and initiatives that can be accessed by companies in the UK advertising industry has been compiled by the Inclusion Working Group, dubbed The All In Directory, with details on how to recruit, support and advance talent.
The group will be publishing a further series of actions later this year as it continues to review the All In Census results and where greater inclusion can be achieved.
In order to encourage swift action, the group has also introduced a process for any company wishing to declare publicly that it is an All In Company, following the publication of today’s plan. They will be asked to provide evidence of implementation across the three actions, in return for All In materials which can be used in company credentials.
Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “The All In Census can help further improve representation across the advertising landscape and build on the work done to date on inclusion in the creative industries. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the sector and seeing the long-term impact of this vital work.”
Inclusion Group chair Kathryn Jacob, who is also chief executive of Pearl & Dean, commented: “It is now time for action. Our census results have provided the benchmark data we need and the way forward is clear. We urge all companies in our industry to engage with the All In Action Plan to help make rapid progress on these critical areas.
“Everyone deserves a workplace where they feel included and it is in our power to make that happen now. The benefits, social and economic, will be huge as we build our way out of the pandemic.”
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