Over the past few decades, lots has been done to start improving diversity in advertising — and it’s been paying off. Although we still have a way to go, there’s no denying that adverts now include a fairly diverse range of people, and many marketing campaigns celebrate different cultures. But does this focus on diversity extend into the people working in advertising?
“The work you get out of a team is as diverse as what you put in”
In collaboration with Lancaster University, COUCH Health set out to determine the state of diversity within Greater Manchester’s advertising agencies. This report explores the demographics of people working in advertising agencies, both in the UK and Greater Manchester specifically, in comparison to the UK population as a whole. The results are clear: more needs to be done to improve diversity, particularly at the top level within agencies. From gender diversity, to ensuring people from all academic backgrounds have equitable opportunities, there’s lots we can be doing already.
Hearing from members of the industry
Of course, just looking at the statistics never tells the whole story — so we spoke to the experts: people working in the industry. Their insights told a clear story of an industry heading in the right direction, but with improvements still to be made. If there’s one thing we should take from their insights it’s that all attempts should be genuine, and diversity schemes should be considered and well thought through.
Diversity is particularly lacking at the top-level of agencies. Although agencies can look diverse overall, diversity is distinctly lacking at the C-suite level of companies. This means that the decision-makers in agencies don’t reflect the wide range of perspectives that their staff have to offer.
Most agencies don’t have clear diversity and inclusion policies. Although sometimes policies can feel forced to some, they are crucial for making a start in diversifying the industry further.
The advertising industry isn’t presented as a career option in most schools. This means that many people who enter the industry have parents or family friends working in advertising, making a lack of diversity more likely.
A lack of money and resources are barriers to smaller agencies improving diversity. Larger agencies can afford to hire people that will need more guidance and training. However, for smaller agencies, they have to choose the person ready to hit the ground running, making it harder to consider diversity during the recruitment process.