Building inclusion from the inside out

For National Inclusion Week IMA-HOME’s Alex Uprichard outlines the importance of living and breathing inclusivity

Alex Uprichard

Managing Director IMA-HOME


IMA-HOME is an agency that prides itself on its talent and creativity. As such we are keen to attract and nurture a diverse community of brilliant thinkers. Whilst we have some great examples of bucking the trend when it comes to some aspects of diversity (for instance having an 80% female board), there are other areas where we need to seek wider voices to be truly reflective of modern Britain. And we’re doing something about it.

The first step for us was seeking a partner who could help guide us on this journey. We were lucky enough to align with the wonderful Elizabeth and Dinah who run Avenir Network. It was invaluable to have a trusted ally who could help us make the right decisions. They helped us understand our current landscape, define our ambitions and create our agency roadmap. We now have a thriving ED&I action force called IMA-HOME &Me, driving our core pillars which cover:

  • Social Mobility
  • Women
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • Disability Confidence
  • Parents & Carers

Our main focuses have been on policy and process change, but education and community building are phasing in as we speak.

One thing that Avenir were brilliant at highlighting for us was that it is not enough to only be outwardly inclusive in the way we present ourselves and attract talent. It is also crucial to build a safe space and community internally so we can retain such talent long term.

We're particularly proud of our progress in tackling social mobility. It is still a major issue for our industry, with the latest All In Census 2023 showing that just 20% of agency folk are from a working-class background compared to 40% of the UK population. Meanwhile, 19% of people in the industry attended a fee-paying school versus 8% in the general population.

It is not enough to only be outwardly inclusive in the way we present ourselves and attract talent. It is also crucial to build a safe space and community internally so we can retain such talent long term.

Alex Uprichard, Managing Director at IMA-HOME

Our agency proposition centres around being real, and authentically living our audience’s reality. To do this, we need to bring together people from all backgrounds and experiences, and that desire has really driven our outreach and recruitment strategy.

Over the past three years, we have established an apprentice scheme and currently have a number of brilliant young people in the business who are learning the industry at the same time as studying.

Take Data Apprentice Lauren, who has been an absolute hero in our DX team: "Lauren has been a revelation, in terms of her existing capability overlaid with her desire to develop. She has already grown in experience and is actively contributing as a key member of our delivery squads in solving real challenges for clients. It really has been a mutually beneficial investment." says Jonathan Price, Director of DX.

We have also become part of Upriser, a programme created by Saatchi & Saatchi, designed to inspire with the power of creativity and offer young people aged 11-18 a real, tangible introduction and route into the creative industries.

As part of Upriser, we have been partnered with Brigshaw High in Kippax. As an integrated agency, we’re bringing the full range of advertising opportunities to these young people, from data, media planning and strategy right through to creative, influencer and digital PR. We’re doing this through paid placements, careers events and supporting in delivering the curriculum.

We went to visit the school and met a group of students ranging from year 7 up to year 12. They were bright, articulate and super curious, but had no idea what an advertising agency actually does. How many of us laugh at the fact that we ‘fell’ into agency life?

It was clear that as an industry we have so far failed when it comes to building awareness of the career opportunities we have enjoyed. We have the privilege of working in a vibrant, exciting and dynamic environment, yet ironically are terrible at promoting the jobs and careers in our agencies for young people to aspire to. We’re potentially losing out on thousands of brilliant young minds every year just because we don’t bother to explain what we do effectively.

There is a lot to do to reverse this trend, but we know we can make a difference, which is why we’re actively getting involved in projects such as Upriser, Advertising Unlocked and anything else we can do to encourage more young people to see our industry as a viable career path.

The benefit is not just for the young people either, it is for the future survival of the industry. This generation think differently, care more, consume media on their terms and have a deeper expectations of brands. A shift is happening, and who’s best to help brands navigate this new world and understand how to connect than they are?

Guest Author

Alex Uprichard

Managing Director IMA-HOME


Alex is Managing Director of IMA-HOME and IPA city head for Leeds, Yorkshire and Humberside. She has 24 years’ experience which spans media planning and buying, media owner sales, running and selling her own digital business and running a large-scale, full-service ad agency. She is passionate about the power of regional agencies, the pursuit of better inclusion and diversity in adland and developing a truly integrated agency model for full-service capability.

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