Study: Workplace Discrimination In Aussie Creative Agencies Rises By Double Digits

Study: Workplace Discrimination In Aussie Creative Agencies Rises By Double Digits
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The Agency Circle, an industry body that’s all about turning the talk around diversity into action, has completed its second survey, and the long-awaited results are in.

Launched back in October 2016, a survey of all participating agencies was conducted to establish an (industry aggregate) baseline for diversity.

In good news, almost all metrics have improved on last year, validation that the industry is moving in the right direction.

This year, The Agency Circle has grown in size, with 11 new creative agencies, as well as 18 media agencies joining.

A total of 1,144 respondents from creative agencies responded to this year’s surveys, compared to 1,211 last year. They shape up like this:

  • Respondents were 77 per cent Caucasian, 9 per cent Asian, 5 per cent multi-racial, 1 per cent Middle Eastern. Only eight African-American industry representatives and one Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander completed the survey.
  • 58 per cent of the respondents were female, 41 per cent male, 1 per cent were ‘other’.
  • 50 per cent of the respondents were under 30, 33 per cent were in their 30s and less than 17 per cent were over 40.

The survey saw some big shifts this year:

  • The number of people who reported experiencing sexual harassment has dropped significantly, down 18 per cent (please note: the question in 2017 survey refers to current employer only).
  • Less people have observed sexual harassment of others at their current agency (down 17 per cent).
  • Agencies are perceived to be less sexist, less racist and more inclusive of LGBTQI than previously (up 10 per cent).

And some smaller shifts in the right direction:

  • Harassment still takes the form of unwelcome comments or jokes, but we are improving (down 6 per cent)
  • As an industry, we feel like we are performing marginally better on gender equality (up 11 per cent).
  • Most people feel included in decision making and not excluded due to discrimination (up 12 per cent).
  • Agency cultures are deemed increasingly supportive of women who take parental leave (up 21 per cent).

But there is still work to do on a few fronts.

  • Reported workplace discrimination, in terms of not receiving desired assignments or promotions at their current agency, has increased by 11 per cent.
  • The proportion of people don’t intervene when they see discriminatory acts is up by 9 per cent.

Emily Perrett, managing director of Clemenger BBDO Sydney and chair of The Agency Circle, said overall the results show real progress.

“The results show that the focus of senior agency staff, coupled with the freedom for each agency to address the key issues in a way that suits them, works,” he said.

“All the numbers are moving in the right direction, but it is slow going – there is still a load of work to be done.”

Industry aggregate scores are released, but the agencies that took part for the second year now have the ability to monitor their progress against their own benchmark as well as the industry average.

Individual agency results are not released by The Agency Circle. Each member has bought into the charter, and an honesty system has been put in place for agencies to decide on whether they want to be/stay part of it or leave.

The media agency results will be made public in the coming weeks.

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