All In reveals action points on women, Asian talent and ageism

The Advertising Association's diversity initiative expands to three new action areas.

All-In: next stage will focus on LGBT+ people, mental health and physical disability
All-In: next stage will focus on LGBT+ people, mental health and physical disability

The Advertising Association has launched the second phase of its “All In Action Plan” diversity initiative, pushing companies to improve the experience and representation of women, Asian and older talent.

The initiative started after an industry-wide census of 16,000 industry-professionals in March 2021, run by Kantar on behalf of the industry’s Inclusion Working Group, which included the AA as one of its leading organisations.

To help women’s experiences, companies will be asked to implement the Flexible First checklist. The checklist helps organisations advertise flexible working and understand its impact and the technology needed for it.

This request comes after the census revealed 53% of women believed parental leave had a negative impact on their career progression, in comparison with 5% of the men asked.

Speaking at the AA’s Renew conference today (27 January), Kate Waters, president of WACL and director of client strategy and planning, commercial and online, ITV, said the checklist may appear as a “tick box” exercise, but can be “incredibly powerful”.

Waters expressed concern about a “two-tier working system” because of the childcare responsibilities women took on during the pandemic. She speculated that if women choose to work at home while men returned to working in the office, men may receive more “recognition”.

She added: “If we enable flexible working for all genders and for women to stay in these roles for longer, we can shrink the gender pay gap and give men the opportunity to work more flexibly as well.”

To improve the experience of Asian employees, companies have been asked to use a guide on the AA’s website devised by the All In Asian Working Group. The guide requests readers to appreciate the differences between religious sects, cater to dietary requirements and establish prayer rooms in the workplace.

This step comes after 27% of Asian respondents said they were likely to leave the industry because of lack of inclusion or discriminaton.

Shez Iqbal, role model at Media for All and director of publisher partnerships at Criteo, said the stats were “difficult to digest but not surprising”.

He told employers: “Be curious. Speak to employees, recognise cultural differences between Asian communities.”

Third, to try to combat ageism within the industry, All In is asking companies to engage with its Shared Experiences policy. The programme pairs people with more than 15 years’ experience with those who have fewer than five years’ experience, in a bid to help participants learn from each other.

Only 4% of respondents to the census were between the ages of 55 and 64 compared with 17% of the UK working population.

Anna Dalziel, founder of 40 over 40, said: “Ageism can’t be resolved with one policy… but we’ve got to start somewhere. We have to tackle ageism with action."

She later added: “We’ve got to see take-up of all these actions we’re putting in place.”

The first stage of “All In” started in June 2021 and focused on making the workplace more inclusive for black, disabled, and working-class staff, after the census found these groups required the most urgent action.

The next stage will focus on LGBT+ people, mental health and physical disability.

Companies who provide evidence they have successfully completed the steps from the “All In Action Plan” will be awarded "All In Champion" status in summer 2022.

The All In census will be repeated in 2023 to track progress.

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