WFA unveils advertiser guide on diversity and inclusion

Resource comes on back of research showing large majority of world's population feels advertising does not represent them.

Loerke: 'Diversity matters now more than ever'
Loerke: 'Diversity matters now more than ever'

The World Federation of Advertisers has published a new guide for brand marketers and their agencies with insights and recommendations on improving on diversity and inclusion in marketing.

The report celebrates work that champions accurate and progressive representations of race and ethnicity, ability, sexuality, gender identity and age. It also highlights the issues caused by the use of indiscriminate blacklists, which have been shown to stop advertisers supporting content aimed at certain communities. 

It follows a 2018 global study conducted by Ipsos, which polled 14,700 adults across 28 countries and found that a large majority (72%) of adults felt the majority of advertising does not reflect the world around them, while 63% didn't see themselves represented in most advertising.

The research also found that almost half of consumers (45%) still saw sexist ads that offend them and 64% felt advertisers need to do more to eliminate traditional or old-fashioned gender roles in their ads. 

Stephan Loerke, chief executive of WFA, said: "Diversity matters now more than ever. It’s the lifeblood of empathy and creativity – two key characteristics which are coming to the fore at this time of crisis and two critical ingredients to the continued success of our industry."

WFA has appointed Belinda Smith, until recently head of global marketing intelligence at EA, and Jerry Daykin, senior media director for EMEA at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health, to lead a task force to encourage the industry to take on these challenges. The task force also includes senior executives from brands and agencies including Diageo, Mastercard, Procter & Gamble, Publicis Groupe and Unilever. 

Smith and Daykin will host a webinar on 12 May outlining key steps that brands can take to improve performance in diversity and inclusion, with further webinars planned over the course of the year to provide a more in-depth look into specific areas of action highlighted in the guide.

Advertisers have a responsibility to use their reach to "positively challenge social expectations", Daykin said: "Diversity doesn’t have to be the main subject of an advertisement – casually improving representation across your output helps to normalise diverse communities and reflects the world without virtue signalling."

Smith added: "Diversity is not just one thing. We cannot make meaningful change by focusing only on gender or other singular traits. Our work must be inclusive, focusing on the richness and intersections of identities that we carry both as consumers and employees. We must strive to improve the experiences of all."

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