Saatchi & Saatchi sets sights on improving adland's diversity and social mobility

Three-part initiative tackles creative education, entry-level talent and affordable accommodation.

Saatchi & Saatchi leadership team: Jenkins, Richard Huntington, Sam Hawkey and Guillermo Vega (Photo credit: Matt Crossick)
Saatchi & Saatchi leadership team: Jenkins, Richard Huntington, Sam Hawkey and Guillermo Vega (Photo credit: Matt Crossick)

Saatchi & Saatchi has launched an initiative to open the doors of the ad industry to black, Asian and minority-ethnic people and those from lower social mobility backgrounds.

It coincides with the agency’s 50th-anniversary celebrations and tackles the creative education of schoolchildren, recruitment and retention of entry-level talent, as well as affordable housing in London.

There are three programmes. Saatchi Ignite is a seven-year partnership with Harris Academy Greenwich, one of the largest academies in London, through which the agency will offer curriculum learning, digital and in-person resources, mentorship and career information to students in years seven to 13. The educational materials will also be open for other students and schools.

Ignite is designed to improve social mobility and address the issue that many schoolchildren lack access to creative education and do not learn about careers in advertising.

The second initiative is Saatchi Open, which will recruit six people every year to entry-level roles in the agency, where they will receive mentoring, business planning support, commercial backing and briefs from Saatchi & Saatchi's clients, including BT, Direct Line and EE. The candidates will then get a chance to build their own entrepreneurial ventures within the Saatchi & Saatchi network, with ongoing business support from the agency.

Finally, Saatchi Home is a partnership with the London Hostels Association to provide tiered affordable accomodation in the capital to interns, Open candidates and junior staff below a certain salary level.

Supported by the Advertising Association, the programme will offer subsidised – or, in some cases, free – rent and aims to remove one of the barriers to entry into the industry: the high cost of living in London.

Sarah Jenkins, managing director at Saatchi & Saatchi, said: “We want our industry and the world to change, not just our business, and are making a promise that we will always be open on our progress, data and, critically, on our lessons learned in order to share a blueprint for success that can be replicated, at scale, by partners and competitors alike.”