DIVERSITY : A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION, A LOT MORE ACTION
Campaign and Engine hosted CMOS and agency leaders to drive the diversity debate forward into a series of pledges, promises and actions
The diversity issue is acute in our industry. There are strong cases for tackling it. Companies with more diverse workforces are 45% more likely to grow their market share year on year, according to a recent Harvard Business Review study. And marketers have a responsibility, and the power, to shape society for the better.
Campaign and Engine gathered leading marketers in Cannes to end the diversity debate and turn the talk into action.
Why? “As media investors we really have a responsibility to normalise diversity in media,” says Airbnb global marketing director Alex Dimiziani.
Global leaders from Airbnb, Mars, Johnson & Johnson, Covergirl and Monster pledged their commitment to drive tangible change – both internally and externally – and stated their determination to work with agencies to make it happen quicker.
In 2002, Engine chief executive Debbie Klein wrote the IPA gender report. At the time, women accounted for just 9% of top jobs, with 15% in creative departments. By 2015, women filled 32% of the most senior positions, but still only 26% in creative departments, according to the IPA’S Gender & BAME survey. “The shift is not fast enough. I’m keen for it to go faster,” said Klein.
The debate touched on various strands of diversity and generated an array of tangible ways in which brands and agencies can stop talking and start taking action.
EIGHT ACTIONS TO TAKE IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS Partner and progress with agencies who champion diversity
Dimiziani said: “We have been very clear with agencies. Our partnership priorities are, first and foremost, diversity.”
Leon Jaume, executive creative director at Engine-owned WCRS, said: “Everyone knows diversity is a good thing, but they have not yet realised that not enough diversity is a really bad thing.”
Brands hold an important position as they can be the catalyst for agencies to change. As they demand effectiveness, efficiency and engagement, marketers must hold agencies to account on diversity.
Covergirl global senior VP Ukonwa Ojo doesn’t set out diversity as a key priority to avoid tokenism or manufactured diversity – she looks for indicators instead. “I want [diversity] already there,” she said. “I would not partner them if they did not have it. When you come in for the pitch, I’m looking at who’s coming into the room and what the work is. My view is, ‘I’m not going to teach you how to do this, I want you to live it.’”
Monster Worldwide CMO Andrew Warner contended: “If the people involved in the process can’t view it through the eyes of the audience you’re trying to connect with, then you’re never going to reach that audience. In the UK, socio-economic background has been one of the most pressing issues for agencies, [which] have often hired Russell Group university graduates who just cannot relate.”
It’s also vital to make diversity an ongoing conversation. Dave Roberts, managing director of Engine content and entertainment marketing agency Trailer Park London, said: “Picking a partner shouldn’t be a procurement tick-box – it’s collaborative.”
Recruit from diverse talent pools
Recruitment offers a real opportunity for change. Both brands and agencies have the power to hire from underrepresented groups, so why do the same types of people usually get hired?
“Agencies do not pay people who work at the lower end enough and so are not attracting the best talent – they could learn a lot from accountancy firms that are offering competitive salaries and so attracting more diverse talent,” said Michele Oliver, VP marketing at Mars. Monster Worldwide is championing equal opportunities in recruitment and recently banned employers from advertising unpaid internships on its sites.
Oliver also urged employers to look for differences in future employees, not similarities: “There is an aversion to risk, so [they] tend to go with people they know.”
Increase visibility on senior teams
Both agencies and brands must get better at promoting a greater diversity of people – especially women – to senior positions.
Jamila Saidi, director of the GREAT Britain international trade campaign and head of international trade marketing at the Department for International Trade, said: “It’s what happens after middle management – that is where you start to see the real challenges. For us, it is critical because we are communicating with people from all over the world. If we don’t have diversity, it [has an] impact on the work we do. A lot of companies we talk to are diverse, from all parts of the UK.”
Former KFC chief marketing and innovation officer Jennelle Tilling added: “You have to have other ‘rock star’ women in your organisation as a support network. At [KFC owner] Yum! Brands, if a woman is going on maternity leave, we often promote them because they go out feeling fantastic about their job.”
Engage creative talent before they leave school – show them that advertising is open to all
Some feel that a key challenge is not having enough diverse applicants applying to the industry in the first place. There is a real need to educate school children about advertising and send a key message that it’s open and holds plenty of opportunities for all kinds of people.
Jaume said: “Creative departments are meritocratic; I don’t know of any cases of people being rejected because of prejudices. We need to go back a few stages and tell schools about what we do so diverse talent comes to the industry. Speakers for Schools is a great way to do this.”
The UK charity he refers to helps state schools inspire their students and broaden horizons by giving them access to the insights, experiences and expertise of leading figures, including Engine CEO Klein, through free talks and workshops.
This is one key way leaders can futureproof the diversity of their workforces.
Create work that reflects the society we live in
It may take more time and effort, but content creators must challenge stereotypes and produce work that reflects modern society.
Engine’s recent “21st Century Woman” study found that 86% of women think brands depict a “stereotypical existence”; 76% of UK women also feel brands don’t accurately represent them. This is a clear call for better understanding of gender diversity.
Mars’s recent Maltesers ad, which depicts stories of young women with disabilities, is an example of a brand connecting with a typically under-represented group. Oliver said: “In our internal survey last year, before
the ad, our people living with a disability were our least-engaged associates. This year, following the ad, they are the secondmost-engaged group – and we did nothing else other than create the Maltesers ad.”
Ojo explains that diversity in advertising doesn’t mean adding limitations, but injecting intuition. “Storytelling is still number one, and if we over-mandate we handcuff the creatives. But if it looks too far from the norm, people won’t connect with it. We need to judge it more intuitively.”
Roberts’ call for greater equality was inspired by a Hollywood hit. “Coming from a production perspective, the big thing for me is making sure we drive diversity behind the camera. The Wonder Woman phenomenon, for example – there was a lot of discussion about it. It’s doing incredibly well and is now expected to change perceptions of female directors. It’s an example of how one piece of work can change the entire mentality of an industry.”
Champion a culture change
When recruiting, some feel that diversity often loses out to convenience. Attitudes must change. Dimiziani said: “We’ve realised diversity matters more than speed. Internally our diverse values are strong, but… there was discrimination happening on our platform. So we made it everyone’s job to champion diversity. We have lots of unconscious-bias training, and it is shocking to find out how biased everyone is. Retraining and creating a positive employee experience is critical.”
Company culture is also changing to focus on retention. Johnson & Johnson has announced that it is offering eight weeks full paid parental leave to all staff, globally. It has also employed a chief diversity officer to prioritise and manage diversity across the organisation. “What people are we bringing in, how is that diversity shaping how people think – we need to think differently about where people are coming from,” said Alison Hatherall, the company’s regional marketing excellence director.
On the agency side, Engine has rolled out unconscious-bias training for all its staff and introduced 50/50 gender shortlists for senior roles; it also offers programmes to improve the reintegration process for employees returning from parental leave.
Set targets and plan a strategy to reach them
Many at the table felt real change is impossible without setting targets. Most had already set them – particularly to ensure a similar number of men and women are considered for roles.
Engine’s global board is 50% women, but at the next tier down, this isn’t the case – so it has set a target to have women as 50% of its top 10% by 2020. Klein said: “There’s a strong business imperative and there’s more impetus if our clients are firmly behind it.”
Klein cited The 30% Club as a proof point for this. The government-backed initiative, designed to get more women into nonexecutive board positions, set a target of 30% when it launched in 2010; the number of women on FTSE-100 boards has since risen from 12.5% to 27%.
Share your challenges and how you’re tackling them
Innovators are driving tangible change on diversity; others have set clear goals. It’s key for organisations to share, educate and encourage their peers to adopt initiatives and targets that work.
Change won’t happen overnight. Progress will.
Debbie Klein, CEO, Engine Europe & Asia
Ukonwa Ojo, global senior VP, Covergirl
Alex Dimiziani, global marketing director, Airbnb
(l-r) Michele Oliver, VP marketing, Mars; Leon Jaume, ECD, WCRS
Jamila Saidi, director, GREAT Britain campaign, Dept. for International Trade
Dave Roberts, managing director, Trailer Park London