Voices

A benchmark for building back better

All In unveils the results of the industry's largest ever inclusion survey and it's first wave of action focused on Black, Disabled and Working Class talent.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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You can’t manage what you can’t measure, treasure what you measure, make it a KPI and change will follow. The importance of measurement and benchmarking when it comes to diversity and inclusion is well established. 

Today, with the publication of the All In census and action plan, the industry has laid down both a marker and a statement of intent to build back better. The research marks the largest survey response ever recorded for the industry, with over 16,000 people across the industry participating.

The research provides a unique benchmark at an important moment in time, in the wake of a global pandemic which has impacted almost every area of our working lives. Yet, even in the depth of the crisis the research reveals that inclusion is a genuine industry priority, with 83% of participants believing that their company is actively taking steps to be more inclusive.

Sharon Lloyd Barnes, Commercial Director and Inclusion Lead at the Advertising Association, says the percentage of people who are seeing a greater focus on inclusion within their companies is a positive story for the industry. The area where there is a real opportunity for improvement is people’s experiences within the advertising industry itself.

Inclusion is for everyone

The Inclusion Group came together in the midst of the global pandemic with a genuine focus on making the industry a better, more inclusive space. “We have this huge opportunity,” explains Lloyd Barnes.

Yet making this unique moment in time a catalyst for change requires a step change in thinking. “Our ambition is to get people to think differently about inclusion,” explains Lloyd Barnes. “Inclusion impacts all of us. It is in the little details like being talked over in meetings.”

Yet notably the team is focused on ensuring that good intentions translate to meaningful actions and the unifying force of the All In movement is one which has the potential to accelerate change. With this in mind the first wave of actions are focused on three key areas; Black talent, disabled talent and working class talent.

The research reveals that the industry risks losing a generation of Black talent. 22% of Black talent is currently experiencing discrimination and 32% is likely to leave the industry due to a lack of inclusion. Amongst Asian staff 15% are currently experiencing discriminaton and 27% are likely to leave the industry because of a lack of inclusion. 

Our ambition is to get people to think differently about inclusion. Inclusion impacts all of us.

Sharon Lloyd Barnes, Commercial Director and Inclusion Lead at the Advertising Association

Mind the disability gap

When it comes to disability, the data reveals a disconnect between the industry and society at large. The census reveals that disabled people are under-represented in the industry (9% vs 20% of the working age population). Only 6% are at a C-suite level and 22% of those with disabilities are likely to leave their organisation. 

Kathryn Jacob, CEO of Pearl & Dean and chair of the Inclusion Group, explains: “Previously if you were disabled perhaps you couldn’t make it to the office or access the office. But the pandemic has meant that we all can’t go to the office.”

It has provided a reset moment to think more critically about how, when and where the industry works. A reset which affords the opportunity to look at accessibility with fresh eyes. To this end, All In is asking the industry to challenge itself to take action to ensure its websites are accessible.

“At least 95% of our websites need to be updated to become more accessible,” explains Lloyd Barnes, who urges people across the industry to signal that this issue really matters by addressing the issue. 

Breaking the class ceiling

When it comes to social mobility the industry is falling short; with working class talent under-represented (at 19% vs. 39% of the working population). At the same time the industry is over-indexing on fee paying schools; with 20% of respondents attending a private school, versus 8% of the general population. The census shows that 72% are graduates, significantly higher than the working population where just over half (48%) are graduates.

For Lloyd Barnes, who didn't go to a private school or to university, she believes the opportunity is there for the industry to make a fundamental systemic shift. She explains: “We do have an obsession with graduates and we need to think hard about what we value. Judging by academic achievements can be alienating and ‘othering’. She points to the fact that even receptionist roles are now demanding degrees.

Addressing advertising’s class ceiling also demands action on unpaid internships. As Jacobs explains: “The only people who can afford unpaid internships are privileged.” She points to practical steps such as paying weekly and taking up apprenticeship schemes. “So much talent is about attitude and what you bring as a person. We need to open ourselves up to all sorts of talent because these are the people we are creating ads for.”

Addressing advertising’s burnout issue

At a time when mental health is rightly top of the industry agenda in the wake of a pandemic which has brought with it immense economic and emotional challenges the data unveils the scale of the industry’s issue and the duty of care employers must recognise. 31% of all respondents reported feeling stressed or anxious.

As Lloyd Barnes explains: “The culture of work hard and play hard brings with it huge pressure.” A pressure which many employees are reappraising in the light of the global pandemic.

With the easing of restrictions promising the industry the opportunity to grasp the flexibility of hybrid working, Jacob notres that leaders have a responsibility to listen to employees and a duty of care that needs to be front and centre as we look to build back better in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis.

Jacob points to the way in which the pandemic has brought colleagues into each other's homes and ushered in a new level of openness. “We need to keep the very best of collaboration, while also taking away that horrendous pressure of having to leave at the last minute to do the nursery run. All of that I hope will change; it's not just about parenting, it's really making sure we hold on to the way in which the pandemic has given permission to humanise a lot of aspects of our lives.”

31%
of all respondents reported feeling stressed or anxious.
51%
of disabled people feel stressed or anxious.
45%
of LGBT+ respondents reported higher stress levels.
36%
of women are stressed and anxious.

We need to keep the very best of collaboration, while also taking away that horrendous pressure of having to leave at the last minute to do the nursery run. All of that I hope will change; it's not just about parenting, it's really making sure we hold on to the way in which the pandemic has given permission to humanise a lot of aspects of our lives.

Kathryn Jacob, CEO of Pearl & Dean and chair of the Inclusion Group

The power of collaboration

‘Unprecedented’ may well be one of the most overused phrases of the pandemic; yet the collaboration and scale of the All In project is exactly that. As Lloyd Barnes explains: “It shows you what collaboration is possible, when it is so important to all of us.”

There will be more actions to follow the first wave of All In recommendations and the team is clear there is more to do. Yet in a world in which we measure what we treasure, the census provides a backbone to the industry. “It keeps us honest,” explains Jacobs. 

In two years time, when the census will be repeated, we can all hope for evidence of a more inclusive industry, but we can be equally assured that hope alone won’t make that change happen. All In is an action plan, one that reflects that change starts with doing.

Adland in numbers: Key takeaways from the All In census

Race

Just 1% of Black talent are in C-suite positions compared to 3% representation in the general UK population.

22% of Black talent is currently experiencing discrimination and 32% are likely to leave the industry due to a lack of inclusion. Amongst Asian staff 15% are currently experiencing discriminaton and 27% are likely to leave the industry because of a lack of inclusion. 

Class

20% of UK advertising professionals attended fee paying schools, against a national average of just 8% 

Disability

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%

Gender

The research revealed that over half (53%) of women who took parental leave felt it disadvantaged their career.  While the gender pay gap is also alive and kicking with executive management reporting a 10% gap, middle managers had a 11% gap. The research suggests the pay gap is exacerbated as women’s careers progress as junior managers and junior trainees, apprentices and executives report pay gaps of 6% and 3% respectively.

12% of women have experienced sexual discrimination and 3% have been subjected to sexual harrassment 

 

Age

The research also underlined advertising’s ageism problem; with the make-up of the industry not representative of the UK working population. Just 4% of respondents were aged 55 to 64 versus almost 17% of the working population. 

Religion

The research reveals that 32% of Muslims are likely to leave the industry based on lack of inclusion and/or discrimination. This is also true for 27% of Hindus and 23% of Sikhs.

Sexual Orientation

10% of respondents identified as LGBTQ+ and 7% have experienced personal discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

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Diversity Inclusion