Advertising is a mirror to UK society. We reflect and react to the changes we see around us and the need to stay alert to a changing society is hugely important to us. Advertising is most successful when consumers believe in the message it contains. Like many industries in the UK, the advertising industry has been working hard to improve how people are depicted in our work, challenging stereotypes to better reflect the world we live in.
This has been further driven by the events of the past year and a half, with the global pandemic and the murder of George Floyd casting renewed light on the inequalities that exist. In advertising, we recognise that by improving representation in our workforce, our work would inevitably be more authentic and help us attract talent long into the future.
That's why we launched the All In campaign; a collaboration between the Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA. The campaign goal is to improve inclusion and representation within the industry, with the aim that everyone who works in UK advertising feels that they belong.
Having formed a small working group across the three organisations early last year, we first launched a hub to showcase all the brilliant initiatives that exist to recruit, support and advance diverse talent.
But a vital part of being more inclusive is about understanding the make-up of our workforce and our experience within it.
We launched the All In Census, the first-ever industry-wide inclusion survey, which we commissioned Kantar to conduct. It took place on 10 March and by getting leaders to cascade it to their staff, we had an amazing response of over 16,000 from across the industry landscape including agencies, brand marketing teams, media owners, tech platforms and production companies. It has also inspired a global rollout of the same inclusion survey via the World Federation of Advertising.
The results of the All In Census were published at an industry summit on 10 June where we also announced the first phase of the All In Action Plan. Despite some positive data for representation across some minority groups, it was very clear that our priority needed to be improving the experience in the workplace for many. For example, a shocking 32% of Black talent is likely to leave the industry because of a lack of inclusion and 22% of Disabled talent are likely to leave their organisation.
Social mobility is also an area we need to do much more to improve representation in, as people from a professional/privileged background outnumber working-class people by almost two to one. Our initiative also received support from government, with Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage commenting, “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.”
The All In Action Plan has a deliberately simple structure. Initially, there is just one very clear ask of the industry for each of the actions. We hope that if we all do the same three things at the same time, we can make significant progress. In the first phase of the All In Action Plan we aim to:
- Improve the experience and representation of Black talent – we are asking the rapid adoption of the newly launched BRiM (Black Representation in Marketing) framework
- Improve the experience and representation of Disabled talent – we are calling on businesses to audit their websites to ensure full accessibility online
- Improve the experience and representation of Working-Class talent – we are advocating the uptake of the Social Mobility Commission Toolkit for the Creative Industries.
The past 18 months have been tough for us all, but many of the people who have borne the brunt of the social and economic impact of the pandemic are also those in most need of a more inclusive society and working environment. As we look to the future, the struggles of the past year have also given British industry an opportunity to start afresh and create the inclusive workplaces we want and need. By doing that, we have a much better chance of reflecting our wider society and recruiting and retaining colleagues who will bring the diversity of thought that is so crucial for any industry.
I would urge anyone who wants to get involved in All In to get in touch and explore what we can achieve together.