NEWS11 May 2023

Discrimination still a problem in UK advertising, finds industry survey

B2B Inclusion Media News Trends UK Wellbeing

UK – A large-scale study of representation and inclusion in the advertising industry has indicated that while an overall sense of belonging has improved, the picture is more mixed for women, ethnic minorities and people identifying as LGB+.

female business leader addressing a group of employees

The All In Census is a joint initiative between the Advertising Association, the IPA and Isba, launched in 2021 with the objective of improving representation and inclusion in the UK advertising and marketing industry.

The survey, conducted by Kantar and supported by advertising think tank Credos, had around 18,500 participants from across the advertising and marketing industry – compared with 16,000 in 2021 – including people working for agencies, media owners, technology companies and brand marketing teams.

Using Kantar’s Inclusion Index, the research measured belonging, absence of discrimination and presence of negative behaviour, with respondents’ sense of belonging increasing by two percentage points to 71% compared with the 2021 findings.

There was a slight decrease in reports of negative behaviour (down one percentage point to 15%), and no change to absence of discrimination, at 97%.

However, the research highlighted more mixed experiences in other areas.

Over half ( 55%) of women surveyed for the research who had taken parental leave in the last five years reported that they feel that taking doing so has negatively impacted their career progression, compared with six per cent of men.

While the research indicated an increase in women in senior roles (comprising 43% of the C-suite compared with 39% in 2021 ), 29% of women felt that ‘gender hinders one’s career’, compared with 12% of men.

The survey found that 18% of respondents were from a minority ethnic background; of those, 4% were black and 8% were Asian.

According to the research, levels of discrimination, bullying and harassment of ethnic minorities are lower in 2023 than in 2021. However, three in ten black people stated they were likely to leave the industry due to a lack of inclusion and/or discrimination, and one in 10 people from an ethnic minority reported that they had personally experienced racial discrimination at their current company.

Of those respondents identifying as LGB+ ( 11%), 27% reported that they are likely to leave their company in the next 12 months.

In other findings, a third of all respondents ( 33% were affected by stress or anxiety, and for almost half of those ( 14%), their stress/anxiety was work-related. Additionally, work-related stress was higher among disabled people, those identifying as LGB+ and carers.

Of all respondents, one in five claimed that they are likely to leave their company in the next 12 months. The main reason given ( 71%) for wanting to leave was to seek better opportunities and salary elsewhere, followed by poor work-life balance and changing career.

The 2023 survey included new questions on the menopause and hybrid working, finding that employees are working an average of 2.2 days a week based in an office.

Kathryn Jacob, chair, All In Working Group, said: “This second All In Census provides us with an even richer set of data to understand where we need to focus efforts to make progress. The All In team and the many All In Champion organisations are committed to taking these latest results and using them to help drive forward to achieve a fully inclusive workplace for everyone who works in our industry.”

The All In Census ran from 15-22 March 2023. The survey was administered by an open online link shared within each participating organisation.

No weighting has been applied to the data, however comparisons to existing industry data shows the sample to be broadly representative with a slight over-representation of women.