Interviews

“If you’re ignoring diversity, you really aren’t doing your job”

Jerry Daykin, Senior Media Director, EMEA at GSK Consumer Healthcare Marketing, on why now is the time for the industry to make diversity a business imperative.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

Share


How do you solve a problem like diversity and inclusion in the midst of a global pandemic? Well, for a start, you stop seeing it as a problem to solve and instead view it as the solution to unlocking growth, potential and creative possibilities. As employees or advertisers reflecting and respecting people as individuals is vital to building back better.

Jerry Daykin is one of the industry’s leading voices when it comes to the importance of prioritising diversity and inclusion. But it's clear his approach to diversity is about far more than words; he sits on the WFA’s Global Media Board, the steering group for the Global Alliance for Responsible Media and is co-chair of their Diversity & Representation Task Force as well as ISBA and the Advertising Association’s equivalents.  He is also a director at the Conscious Advertising Network and Outvertising.

Daykin is a speaker at next week’s Creative Equals event, RISE, which this year is being run as part of Advertising Week. This is in keeping with the trend that when good things are happening in the industry, Daykin is often a part of it; there pushing for progress and cheering the changemakers on. An approach which underlines the fallacy of seeing diversity and inclusion as a point of friction between brands and agencies, as opposed to a shared endeavour. 

So, as the industry emerges from the Coronavirus pandemic, does Daykin believe there is a unique moment for the industry to reset and rise up, particularly when it comes to embracing the principles of the Conscious Advertising Network? “I think there has been some good progress in the industry in terms of raising the floor, especially in some areas like hate speech, ad fraud and disinformation,” he explains.

While Daykin believes there is more to be done, he notes that “most big brands and agencies are at least making efforts to tackle this space,” while CAN continues to challenge some of the big platforms on their responsibilities too. Yet he believes now is the time to accelerate this change.

“For me, there is a big opportunity now to blow off the ceiling – our approach shouldn’t just be about avoiding the very worst parts of the internet, but actively about how we support and encourage the positive richness that comes from funding diverse voices, serious journalism and high quality entertainment,” he adds.

It’s an approach that highlights the power of advertisers to choose to invest with brands which better reflect the diversity of society. As he explains: “We can rise up to see our media and marketing approaches not just as investments in our brands, but also in the content and communities around them.”

For me, there is a big opportunity now to blow off the ceiling – our approach shouldn’t just be about avoiding the very worst parts of the internet, but actively about how we support and encourage the positive richness that comes from funding diverse voices, serious journalism and high quality entertainment.

Jerry Daykin, Senior Media Director, EMEA at GSK Consumer Healthcare Marketing

An era of accountability

There is no question that 2020 was a painful year for the advertising industry. Yet as the industry looks to build back better in the wake of the crisis, progressive policies and proactive planning on diversity and inclusion are coming to the fore. A recent example being Saatchi & Saatchi’s progressive and comprehensive programme to support working parents.

Daykin is a huge supporter of this innovation from agencies. As one of several clients that sits on Publicis Groupe’s new UK Diversity & Inclusion board, he points to the importance of that ‘transparency and accountability’ as a fantastic initiative in itself. He explains: “Certainly part of the sessions have been ‘show and tell’ around some of the great projects and the progress they’ve been making, but we’ve also had really frank and challenging conversations that lean into real issues but bring a positive mindset about solving them.”

He points to the group’s support of the Brixton Finishing School and the importance of the development in parallel to their Saatchi Open House initiative. “This is offering training and accessible ways into our industry for a broader range of future talent,” he adds.

Diversity is not a distraction

It is clear to Daykin that far from being a distraction, diversity is both a driver of business and a marketing imperative. He explains: “More so than almost any other industry, diversity is our job as marketers. We are paid to understand consumers, to produce products and advertising that appeals to them, to cut through huge noise to make our brands interesting and relatable; ultimately to reflect and be relevant to the modern society we live in.”

A fact that he believes equates to: if you’re ignoring diversity, then you’re failing as a marketer. He continues: “If you’re ignoring diversity, if you’re failing to represent some of the breadth of that audience, you really aren’t doing your job fully as a marketer and you’re leaving emotional impact, and concrete growth audiences on the table.”

Yet despite this fact, he believes tackling diversity remains a widespread challenge in the industry with leaders not really knowing what to do about it. Or, as he explains, to “not to have a huge fire underneath yourself and your team to change things.” In short, while the industry recognises the importance of diversity and inclusion, there remains a level of complacency at scale.

At GSK, the brand has led a global project to train and empower marketers on the importance of  diversity and representation in its external communications. As part of that, the team looked for ‘lighthouse examples of brands who were really willing to try and explore that potential. In the UK market, Daykin explains the team forged a now ongoing partnership with Gay Times which to begin with has seen new work come to life with the Sensodyne and Voltarol brands. 

For Sensodyne the work displays quite casual representation and inclusion in the casting and messaging, where as with Voltarol, Daykin reveals the marketing strategy is a more purposeful partnership with the charity Pride Sports, where the brand has used its media and content to amplify the stories of a range of LGBT+ local sports clubs. “For me it highlights the spectrum of opportunity in this area, and the fact that it outperforms our benchmarks, even when run against very broad wider audiences, is the icing on the cake,” he explains.

Who is missing from the room 

Clearly for Daykin diversity and inclusion is an ongoing process and he is keen to underline that he is aware he doesn’t have all the answers. He explains: “What I try and do is embrace is a willingness to ask more of the right questions, to look at different stages across the marketing process, the hiring process, the development process, basically across all our processes and say who are we missing out here, what aren’t we doing or thinking about that we really should be.” He notes that: “Those questions tend to be a lot easier to answer when you have a range of people with different perspectives helping you answer them.”

Yet the latest IPA data reveals that all too many groups remain shut or squeezed out of the industry, The research revealed that Covid-19 had ‘exaggerated existing negative trends’ in the industry such as the lack of gender equality and ageism. The number of women employed full time in member agencies fell by 13%, while the greater decline in the number of part-time employees at member agencies fell by 23%. A quarter of women working part-time exited the industry in 2020. In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 it took the industry seven years to recover in terms of gender equality. 

Daykin is clear sighted on how to address this issue head on. “We’ve just got to do better haven’t we?” he says, noting “we have some fantastic women and people of colour working in our industry but we have to really ensure we’re giving them fair chances to input, to develop and to progress, otherwise we can hardly blame others for not wanting to join.”

Step up, do better, make change

He points to the vital role of allies in making positive change, “ I know lots of men who struggle with what role they can play in all of this and whilst there are of course grand gestures and big projects that make a difference, there are also dozens of simple small steps we can all take to enable this.”

He continues: “Pay attention in your meetings and Zoom calls and see who never gets a chance or has the confidence to speak, look out for those who are struggling the most with their working from home conditions, actively denounce behaviour which could make some colleagues or members of your team uncomfortable, and take the time to better understand what some of those things might be.”

Daykin points to the positive impact that taking part in the Bloom Exchange program has had on his understanding and perspective of the experience of women in the industry. The groundbreaking programme pairs male leaders in the industry with women from Bloom mentoring; a unique cross mentoring initiative which has helped to drive the industry forward through sharing on a one-to-one level. 

He explains: “This year, and whilst I still only have a glimpse into the realities of women in our industry, I’m an awful lot more conscious of it and some of the small things I can do, or perhaps not do, to try and move things forward.”

You realise the challenges and responsibilities that other people face, the mind-blowing juggling that home schooling has required for instance, and I hope that means no one will ever be judged again for having to leave the office early to collect the kids.

Jerry Daykin, Senior Media Director, EMEA at GSK Consumer Healthcare Marketing

A window into the juggle

While the pandemic has brought with it untold loss, Daykin is focused on holding onto the learnings that have come out of this unique period of our working lives. “I’ve loved that video conferencing has given us glimpses into our colleagues’ lives that have often helped us get to know them better. You’ve seen their interior design tastes, met their pets and family, followed them as they’ve moved around the country or the world, and I think that’s been a great experience in many ways.”

It has also surfaced the stresses and strains that different colleagues face; an experience Daykin describes as an eye-opener. He explains: “You realise the challenges and responsibilities that other people face, the mind-blowing juggling that home schooling has required for instance, and I hope that means no one will ever be judged again for having to leave the office early to collect the kids.”

He also underlines the fundamental flaws in the belief that we are ‘all in it together’ when it comes to a pandemic where no two experiences are the same. “It has of course highlighted inequalities too,” he adds. “I think there have been a few too many thought pieces on how wonderful working at home is that were probably written from someone’s sunken garden or dedicated study. Certainly the experience has been vastly different for those living in shared apartments, having to work in their bedrooms, or broadly lacking the resources, support and social nature of the office.”

I think there have been a few too many thought pieces on how wonderful working at home is that were probably written from someone’s sunken garden or dedicated study.

Jerry Daykin, Senior Media Director, EMEA at GSK Consumer Healthcare Marketing

He notes that “flexibility is a great thing”, but that also some people do need to get back to their “good old ways”. Whether for employees or consumers the ‘one size fits all’ approach was never fit for standard. The work of leaders like Daykin is helping to ensure that whether as advertisers or employers we respect and represent people as individuals.  

Represent your perspective. Represent ALL your customers in the work. This is what outstanding inclusive leadership for the creative and media sector looks like in 2021. Yes, Creative Equals’s sell-out conference is BACK - and it's online (plus you can purchase tickets in collaboration with Advertising Week - yes, such a great deal!).  

Get your tickets now 

 

Related Tags

Diversity