Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Driving diversity and inclusion in the ad industry

Adland’s leading trade bodies are banding together on a diversity initiative aimed at building a better, more diverse industry for all. 

The Inclusion Group, formed in April 2020 by the Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA and chaired by Kathryn Jacob, CEO, Pearl & Dean is launching the All In campaign with a confidential census to be conducted in March. 

The campaign was announced at Reset 2021, the first combined annual conference from the Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA, which aims to help shape advertising’s future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The presidents of each association, Peter Duffy (ISBA),Nigel Vaz (IPA) and Keith Weed (AA) took to the virtual stage with broadcaster Aasmah Mir to announce the initiative. 

The census, the first campaign element, will take place on March 10, 2021 and be “fully confidential and aggregated”. Kantar will record and analyse the data accrued, with the results used to inform an action plan addressing how greater inclusivity across the industry’s talent landscape will be achieved. 

The Presidents’ session also covered a number of other industry challenges, opportunities and issues including climate change, COVID, junior recruitment and the future of advertising. 

Said Weed: “I’m for everyone highlighting the challenges we have around climate, as we have a real crisis.. We’re not making the progress that we need to make, urgently.”

He pointed to his time as Chief Marketing Officer at Unilever and the development of its sustainable living plan. “There is real evidence that this can grow brands and connect [them] with new consumers.”

Advertising was a real driver of behaviour change, he said, citing handwashing to car seat belts and the brushing of teeth.

Again, the industry is acting as one, with the introduction of Ad Net Zero, announced in November last year and supported by ad industry alumni including Sky, WPP, Unilever, Credos and the AA amongst others. 

 Another talking point was that of transparency and the evolving client/agency relationship. 

Said Duffy: “Any good relationship starts with trust, and in order for that relationship to be sustainable that trust needs to exist and both parties need to understand what they’re relying on.”

Although there were some clients that would focus only on price and getting the cheapest media, he believed that more would understand the importance of business performance as a key driver for media agency success. 

That needed both an agreed framework, built on the work of – for instance – the PwC’s Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency study as well as a wider education brief. 

Education was a key point for Vaz, more broadly. He questioned the right pathways for young people to become part of the ad industry. “We need to move away from what’s happening with university education to something more broad,” he said. “Are there apprenticeships, or other ways to get here?”

He called on the industry to challenge unintended bias and consequence in order to build a diverse workforce that was “more reflective of the people we serve”. One of the avenues would be the All In scheme, he added. It already has widespread industry support. 

Following the All In announcement, Kathryn Jacob, Chair, Inclusion Working Group, said: “We know there is a systemic problem to tackle in our industry, that of fully inclusive representation in our workforce. To make the most meaningful change, we must set a benchmark to measure and track progress against. This census is a vital starting point for everyone to help build an industry that truly represents the world we live in today. I encourage people to spread the word – March 10 is the day for all in our industry to come together and say ‘I’m In’.”

Jerry Daykin, Senior Media Director, EMEA, GSK, added: “This Census is a hugely important moment for all of us in UK Advertising to get involved in. It will provide the much-needed confidential and aggregated data to make real progress against. We cannot expect our agencies and partners to take this action if we don’t do the same ourselves, so at GSK, we’re all in – we will be asking our marketing team to take part on March 10. I hope all those in leadership positions across our industry, at brands, agencies, media owners and tech companies, do the same.”

Channel 4’s in-house agency 4creative proposed the name for the All In initiative, and branding agency Two Stories has designed the promotional campaign.