September 20, 2021

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‘All In’ census: IPA, ISBA and AA ask some difficult questions about industry inclusivity

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A survey of advertising professionals conducted by All In (set up by the Advertising Association, the IPA and ISBA) received 16,000 responses — which the group says is the largest data set yet for the industry. It found that an encouraging 83% of participants believe their company is actively taking steps to be more inclusive. But are they succeeding?

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All In may be the first major industry effort to ask questions aimed at the LGBTQ+ community, which is usually woefully under-represented in these surveys. Answering anonymously, seven per cent of c-suite identified as LGBTQ+ against 10 per cent of overall respondents. However, seven per cent reported discrimination around their sexual orientation – although that’s significantly better than the UK benchmark of 14 per cent.

The news gets a lot bleaker after that, though. The industry is not a welcoming place for all religions: 32 per cent of Muslims, 27 per cent of Hindus and 23 per cent of Sikhs ticked the box saying they are likely to leave the industry based on lack of inclusion and/or discrimination.

Not surprisingly, a third of respondents feel stressed or anxious, rising to 51 per cent of disabled people, 45 per cent of LGBTQ+, 38 per cent of 25-35 year olds (vs 21 per cent of 45-54 year olds), and 36 per cent of women (vs 25 per cent of men).

Women are still having a tough time: 53 per cent of those who took parental leave felt that it disadvantaged their career; 12 per cent have experienced sexual discrimination but only a quarter of those feel able to report it. And there’s a 10 per cent gender pay gap at from the level of senior manager and above.

Despite this, gender discrimination is not among the five key areas for action. These are:

• Just 1% of Black talent are in C-suite positions compared to 3% representation in the general UK population
• Disabled talent are underrepresented (just 9% vs 20% working age population) with 22% likely to leave their organisation compared to the industry average of 9%
• People whose parents had professional backgrounds are significantly overrepresented (64% vs 37% national average)
• 20% of UK advertising professionals attending fee paying schools versus a national average of just 8%
• Mental health is a problem across the workforce with nearly a third (31%) of our workforce stressed or anxious

The three corresponding “calls to action” are sensibly realistic and not overly ambitious, providing first steps towards change rather than a full roadmap.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “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.”

Kathryn Jacob, CEO Pearl & Dean and Chair, Inclusion Group, said: “It is now time for action. Our census results have provided the benchmark data we need and the way forward is clear. We urge all companies in our industry to engage with the All In Action Plan to help make rapid progress on these critical areas. Everyone deserves a workplace where they feel included and it is in our power to make that happen now. The benefits, social and economic, will be huge as we build our way out of the pandemic.”

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