Daniel Marks

Tackling diversity and inclusion in the creative sector

We spoke to Gaby Dutton-Williams, head of diversity & inclusion at Daniel Marks, for her insights into the importance of a truly inclusive workplace.

Gaby Dutton-Williams, head of diversity & inclusion, Daniel Marks
Gaby Dutton-Williams, head of diversity & inclusion, Daniel Marks

This week is National Inclusion Week and October is Global Diversity Awareness Month - a timely opportunity to reflect on how the creative industry is shaping diverse and inclusive workforces.

We spoke to Gaby Dutton-Williams, the newly appointed head of diversity & inclusion (D&I) at the international recruitment firm, Daniel Marks, for her insights into the key issues and what she’s looking to achieve in her new position.

What do we mean by diversity and inclusion?

The term ‘diversity’ has become a buzzword in the workplace and wider society, and it goes hand in hand with the term ‘inclusion’. Many businesses, such as Daniel Marks, now have specialists dedicated to diversity and inclusion to ensure they’re effectively implementing it in their business.

But it’s not a simple box ticking exercise, as Dutton-Williams explains: "Diversity and inclusion encompasses such a wide range of factors including gender, disability, mental health, neurodiversity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, religious beliefs, political beliefs and more.

"Even flexible working falls under D&I as it takes into account those who need to adjust their working patterns around their personal circumstances, and can therefore feel ‘included’ and able to do a great job regardless of where or when they work.

"Diversity should be ingrained in every organisation’s business and people strategy but at present many businesses are struggling to embed it into their culture. This risks their well-intentioned attempts to hire a diverse workforce becoming nothing more than a box-ticking exercise."

Why is true diversity and inclusion important?

According to the 2018 McKinsey and Company report, businesses with a diverse workforce are 35% more likely to have a financial return above the industry average.

Genuine D&I can have a massive impact on company culture, from your mission and values to whom you hire and retain. "Giving people equal opportunities is the right thing to do for the individual and society", explains Dutton-Williams. "From a commercial perspective it’s no secret that diverse and inclusive teams are happier and therefore more productive, they spur creative thinking and innovation, and they’re also more profitable."

Daniel Marks has successfully run a number of initiatives that are specifically designed to provide opportunities for young people from diverse backgrounds to get a start in the industry as well as return to work. These include The Planning Academy and The Big Bang initiatives which focus on recruiting diverse talent that would either not normally be aware of career opportunities in the creative and marketing industries, or simply don’t have the chance to break into it due to their socio-economic background.

Identifying the sector’s D&I challenges

Part of Dutton-Williams’ role is to oversee The Panel - another initiative Daniel Marks is launching this year to find out what the current talent challenges are in the industry from agency CEOs and people / HR executives. "This will provide us with insight to enable us to tailor The Planning Academy, The Big Bang and any other potential initiatives which could help solve some of the talent challenges," says Dutton-Williams.

It will involve a select group of the industry’s leaders, including HR leaders, coming together to identify, assess and action current industry-wide talent issues, whilst providing a question and answer forum for young people. All this in order to attract a wider diverse audience to the creative and marcomms world.

Dutton Williams adds: "We are looking to offer opportunities to people who might fall outside of our typical talent pool, by providing them with opportunities to join the industry and in turn generating a pipeline of diverse candidates to our clients.

"We ultimately want to add value to the industry and make sure that we are focusing our attention on what our clients need, and what will benefit individuals and society."

Top tips

The Panel will uncover deeper insights into the industry’s D&I challenges and action points but in the meantime, Dutton-Williams offers the following top tips to help you implement diversity and inclusion in your workplace:

  • Educate your workplace: First and foremost everyone needs to understand the broad scope of D&I and that it encompasses providing equal opportunities to all, as well as attracting, finding and hiring diverse candidates. It also includes creating an inclusive culture and environment for people to thrive in and where people feel comfortable being themselves and are treated fairly. It’s not always something visible such as skin colour or gender. It also needs to take into account diversity of thought, neurodiversity and socio-economic background, for example.
  • Rewire the way you hire: Remove unconscious bias and don’t just hire people who are similar to each other. As part of National Inclusion Week three of our team members, including myself, attended Rewire the way you hire which was run by Ali Hanan at Creative Equals. It was an enlightening session with industry peers which tackled unconscious bias in the recruitment process. We’ll be working with Ali to tailor a session for all our employees to help us be more inclusive in our roles. I would recommend this session to others!
  • Understand the benefits: By realising the commercial benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workforce you will be able to ingrain it within your business and people strategy and align it with your values in a way that ultimately benefits your people and profits alike. As part of our journey to improve and support D&I, myself and our CEO Dan Matthews have reconsidered and written our mission and values to be more inclusive.

Dutton-Williams brings with her over 14 years’ experience in talent management, focusing on talent acquisition and diversity and inclusion at the likes of Dentsu Aegis Network and Publicis Sapient.

Watch this video to learn more about Gaby Dutton-Williams’ role as head of diversity & inclusion at Daniel Marks.

Should you have any talent requirements or would like to know more as to how you can be involved in the diversity & inclusion initiatives being run by Daniel Marks, please visit or call +44 (0) 203 770 6828 for more details.


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