For companies to go All In on inclusion, they must now shine a light on their own data
A view from Naren Patel and Vino Vethavanam

For companies to go All In on inclusion, they must now shine a light on their own data

Some damning statistics emerged from the UK adland census and the onus is on individual businesses to make changes, the founder of Media For All and director of content at PinkNews say in this joint article.

It has been one whole month since the results of the Advertising Association’s ground-breaking All In Census were published and we need to do more to interrogate what these statistics mean for our industry and how we move forward.

The anonymised, industry-wide survey generated more than 16,000 responses and they tell a very clear and distinct story about how minorities feel when it comes to belonging and inclusion in our industry.

The racism directed at three black footballers in the England team following the Euro 2020 final clearly shows that racism very much exists within society – and neither can we pretend that it does not exist within our industry.

As we all know, in the wake of George Floyd’s brutal murder many organisations in our industry have started to tackle the lack of diverse talent, which is positive.

But is it enough, and how well are these organisations doing? Is change tangible and is our diverse talent pool feeling the effects of various initiatives? Are businesses doing enough to stamp out discrimination directed towards minorities?

These businesses are working hard to ensure representation of diverse talent through hiring quotas and targets, but the survey highlights a serious issue on inclusion and belonging – namely, one-third of minorities are looking to leave the industry and at least one in six has experienced discrimination.

We have a leaky bucket when it comes to diverse talent.

Twenty two per cent of people from a black background have reported discrimination and 32% of them are likely to leave due to the lack of inclusion.

Fifteen per cent of Asians have reported discrimination and 27% of them are likely to leave due to lack of inclusion.

These were the most damning statistics in the All In survey, and they require significant cultural shifts to ensure that the diverse talent stays and progresses in our industry.

Diversity Wins, a report issued in May 2020 by McKinsey & Co, suggested that businesses tackle the issue of inclusion by addressing cultural issues within business. 

These include:

  • Making people feel equal. Enabling equality of opportunity through fairness and transparency.
  • Openness. Promote openness and tackling microaggressions through a policy of zero tolerance on bullying and discrimination and open communication.
  • Belonging. Foster belonging through unequivocal support for multivariate diversity

Inclusion and workplace culture are hard to measure and take time to fix and that, coupled with the fact that it is unclear whether staff respond truthfully and openly to internal surveys, means that measuring progress is tricky business.

In fact, only 26% of people felt comfortable about reporting personal discrimination. 53% of them felt that reporting discrimination would have a negative impact on their career and, most painful of all, is that 27% of the time the instigator of the discrimination was a senior leader.

At times, some of us who have spent years fighting for equity and inclusion in advertising have felt at a loss as to where to even start in changing the status quo. But we must persist.

Changing culture is difficult and takes time and effort, but we must start by tackling discrimination head on. It is important for businesses to understand where they currently stand.

The AA will provide any company with more than 50 respondents a cut of its All In data on a confidential basis (individuals aren't identified because it was anonymous).

This will give a business a good starting point to understand its own problems and challenges, so it can confront any racism that exists and start to implement programmes to create meaningful change.

Hopefully, we can move to a position in the future where the detailed results of the All In Census are published on a company basis.

This will allow clients, partners and potential employees to use the data to help them determine their future relationships with businesses and a better workplace for all.

Naren Patel (pictured, above left) is the founder of Media for All and Vino Vethavanam (pictured, above right) is the director of content at PinkNews and a MEFA mentor

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