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Dominic Mills 

Diversity...improving. Inclusion...not so much

Diversity...improving. Inclusion...not so much

Dominic Mills looks at what the All in Census results have to say about D&I before tuning in for a spot of GB News

A senior figure from the world of HR told me recently that her peers in the profession were no longer talking about D&I but instead about I&D. The reason for the reversal of the initials was a desire to prioritise the inclusion bit.

Diversity, she said, was (relatively speaking) the easier bit - on one level a counting exercise where targets are achieved and there’s lots of box-ticking.

Inclusion though, was much harder involving significant cultural and attitudinal change among organisations and individuals.

That is certainly the conclusion I would draw from the publication last week of the cross-adland All In Census results.

On diversity, the industry is doing okay-ish and generally heading in the right direction.

By ethnicity, compared to the UK population as a whole, black and Asian representation is proportionate, and mixed ethnicity slightly above. By gender, women are also over-represented throughout the industry. By sexual orientation, similarly so.

But not nearly so well on inclusion.

Generally, in these categories, there is significant under-representation the further up the seniority ladder you go, the one exception being social class where (phew) some evidence of meritocracy is evident.

The problem, simply, is that the industry can’t retain certain types of talent.

Women for example, believe their careers are held back by maternity leave, while a third of black staff and a quarter of Asians say they are likely to leave the industry because of discrimination and/or a lack of inclusivity.

Change on the desired scale clearly takes time to work its way through. But it’s not a smooth process. Minorities come in through a welcoming front door, they find the house and its residents disagreeable and inhospitable, and they go out through the back door.

No wonder there is comparatively higher stress among the disabled, LGBTQ+ and women groups.

How has this happened?

In the talent wars — where agencies have been on the front-line for many years — success comes from the two Rs — recruitment and retention. Retention is closely linked to inclusivity. Somehow the industry has forgotten this.

Much the same also applies to age.

Up to 44, age cohorts are over-represented versus the working population. Then it falls off rapidly so that the 55-64s are under- represented by a factor of four and the 65+ group by a factor of 13.

We all know why this is but there’s nonetheless a curious and contradictory dynamic at work here: on the one hand, the industry believes that if you want to understand and target youth/ethnic/demographic groups, it helps if you employ people from those categories.

On the other hand, this doesn’t apply to those 55+ even though they’re the ones with the money or, as Laurence Green of Mullen Lowe points out, the consumer these days is your mum.

There’s also one item the survey does not specifically address but which, it seems to me, is missing: I&D at clients, what you might call the missing piece of the jigsaw.

I understand why it was not possible in the All In survey (and in any case just 10% of respondents were client-side) but it is an issue that needs to be addressed.

If you want an analogy, it’s that Tesco or Shell declares that their supply chains must go green but neglect to mark their own homework.

I don’t doubt that clients have this I&D information, both at a company-wide level and probably down to the individual departments, including marketing.

But why isn’t it available at an industry-wide level?

The WFA, I should add, is trying to do something about this with a multi-country, pan-industry census. It covers many of the major markets -- the USA, China, Japan, India and Spain -- but not the UK, about which I’d certainly like to know.

*Update 16/6/21: And now I do know. Far from the UK not participating in the WFA I&D study, the results from All In will be rolled up into it. In fact, the two are co-ordinated and there is, as is clear, no point in the UK doing the All In study and then repeating the exercise again with the WFA. I should also add that respondents from some 160 brands participated in All In.

GB News: quite mainstream, really

In a vague way, I thought I’d check out GB News, which launched on Sunday.

Billed as the UK’s answer to Fox News, I was curious about two things. One, was it really the anti-woke antidote to, say, Newsnight or C4 News? Two, how would advertisers respond?

I can’t wholly answer the first question since I’d only just turned on when there was an ad break and I only stuck with it a few minutes after.

The ad break may have been troubled by technical issues — it was very long and some ads ran twice. But it included Virgin Media, Octopus Energy, Starbucks, Amex, Nivea Q10, Deliveroo, Benadryl, Weetabix and Listerine.

Er right...a mixed bunch, some niche-ish, some mass, but all aimed pretty firmly at the mainstream.

How many of them, I would be curious to discover, actually knew they would feature on the channel. Very few, I’d guess.

What I saw of the content was pretty mainstream too.

People sitting around chatting about stuff you would expect — so to call it ‘news’ is a bit of a misnomer. This being the UK, it was polite and non-shouty.

GB News has a world view, but it’s not ramming it down our throats. If you’ve seen Fox News (and it’s opposite-leaning counterpart CNN), it’s miles from those.

However, is that enough to draw an audience sufficient to keep advertisers interested? It has some expensive journalistic talent and (as promised) 15+ hours of airtime a day to pay for.

But the Telegraph gave it an initial thumbs-up in this four-out-of-five-star review and its five-minute daily Wokewatch section may be a winner with a non-metropolitan audience.

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