Marketing industry abysmal on advertising flexible working

Major new research has revealed that just 2% of job vacancies in the marketing, advertising and PR sector offer flexible working options.

Marketing industry abysmal on advertising flexible working

This means the marketing industry is not only significantly lagging other sectors but significantly out of touch with the demands and wants of employees. 14.1 million people in the UK want or need flexible work, equivalent to 56% of all the people in employment in the country.

The groundbreaking research, unveiled by Timewise today, suggests that the marketing industry is failing to capitalize on the phenomenal opportunity for flexibility that technology affords.

According to the research recruiters advertising jobs are out of step with flexible working, which is now widely practiced by many businesses. This "default" practice of advertising jobs on a full time basis is cutting employers off from some of the best available talent.

Glass ceilings and sticky floors

The failure of brands to incorporate flexible working in their job adverts is also stopping talented individuals from progressing as they fear they will have to sacrifice their flexibility to get ahead.

Jobs advertised with flexibility are so rare that 77% of flexible workers feel "trapped" in their current role. This impacts a significant pool of employees as over 5.4 million people currently work in flexible roles.

This problem is particularly acute in the marketing industry, which is facing up to a significant diversity problem.

Elizabeth Doughty, who now works as a copywriter told the researchers, said: "I used to be a group account director at a large marketing agency, but after taking a career break I found that flexible vacancies at my level just didn’t exist.

"It was a hard choice to make, but I have opted out of having a senior level career. Flexibility is a deal-breaker for me."

The diversity dilemma

According to the research businesses wanting to improve diversity in senior management need to embrace and promote flexibility. It cites the lack of job mobility and career progression for flexible workers as a "major factor in the failure of the female talent pipeline".  

Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management and founder of the 30% club says the research shows that while companies have embraced flexible working for existing employees, their approach does not extend to making new hires which "seems inconsistent".

She said: "If businesses could offer flexibility for new hires too, we might see a much wider pool of female talent open up - benefiting businesses by alleviating the stubborn problem of too few women in the talent pipeline."

The lack of diversity in advertising is a key issue for the industry and the IPA has partnered with Campaign magazine to address the issue. The industry body will ask member agencies to contribute to league tables which will reveal the percentages of ethnic minority and female staff.

The move follows public criticism of adland's lack of diversity by senior marketers including P&G's Roisin Donnelly who said the lack of female creatives and creatives who are mothers is driving the dearth of great advertising targeted at mothers.

Proportion of jobs advertised with flexibility, by role type...


Health / Social Care - 20%
Education / Training - 13%
Military / Policing / Security - 7%
Admin / Secretarial - 6%
HR - 5%
Retail - 5%
Customer service - 5%
Supply chain / logistics - 4%
Sales - 4%
Legal - 4%
Accounting / Finance - 3%
Arts / Media / Design - 3%
Catering / Hospitality - 3%
Banking / Insurance - 3%
Science / Technology - 3%
Consultant / Analyst - 3%
IT - 2%
Director / Management - 2%
Marketing / Advert / PR - 2%
Engineering / Manufacturing - 2%
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