John Rudaizky, partner, global brand and marketing leader at EY, said: "Creativity comes from bringing people with different backgrounds, genders, beliefs [and] skills [together] to deliver the best work for the client."
According to Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4, diversity fuels success. "A diversity of people – and therefore of perspectives and ideas – in a work situation produces results that are more innovative, more creative and, in turn, more commercially successful," he said.
The business case for diversity is well established. A 2015 McKinsey report on 366 public companies found those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have returns above the industry mean, and those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to.
HP, a founding sponsor of anti-gender-bias initiative "Free the Bid", delivered a strong profit forecast last month, topping Wall Street expectations. Speaking at Advertising Week in New York, Antonio Lucio, HP’s global chief marketing and communication officer, urged clients to ask agencies and production houses to introduce diversity-driving internship schemes and address unconscious gender bias.
The argument that the ad industry’s commitment to talking about diversity has not been matched by action may be valid. Rudaizky said: "The latest World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report shows it will take around two centuries to achieve gender parity."
Research from the Geena Davis Foundation found that women account for only 34% of all characters in ads. Rudaizky added: "The factual indicators show this issue is not over."
Cindy Gallop, founder and chief executive of MakeLoveNotPorn and IfWeRanTheWorld, said: "It’s time an industry whose primary target is women came together to dramatically raise the bar for creativity by prioritising female and diverse talent and creative leadership."