Fresh from last week’s controversy where a top UK ECD claimed to be “bored” by the advertising industry’s drive to a more diverse workplace, comes a new report that suggests the problem appears more entrenched than first thought.
The report, by tech giant Adobe – albeit a US one – confirmed that people of ethnic backgrounds were underrepresented in adland and, worse still, those who were felt their contributions were less valued, too. You can read the Adobe study in full here.
The study was based on the responses of 750 people working on the creative side of media and found that 54 per cent agreed that diversity in adland was better now than it was five years ago, while seven per cent said the issue had actually worsened.
It found that 55 per cent of respondents classified as people of colour agreed with the statement that “People I work with value my contributions,” compared with 63 per cent of white respondents.
Some 63 percent of persons of colour selected “strongly agree” to the statement “I can be myself at work,” compared with 70 per cent of white respondents.
According to the Adobe study, double the number of people of colour said a lack of tools and/or training had proven a barrier to their career advancement compared to white colleagues.
Sixty-five per cent said a “lack of sponsorship from a senior-level advocate” was a barrier to advancement, compared to 53 per cent of white respondents. Some 62 per cent cited a lack of support from bosses and management, compared with 49 per cent among white the white people surveyed.
When it came to women, the study found that 62 per cent of females agreed with the statement that there were “many people like me in leadership roles”. The figure for men was 73 per cent.
While 23 per cent of females (and 14 per cent of men) agreed that their gender would hamper their future career success.
However, if there was a positive to come out of the Adobe study, most respondents agreed that a more diverse workforce could only be a good thing for adland. Eighty-seven per cent of respondents agreed that a diverse workforce should be a priority in creative industries and a further 90 per cent agreed with the statement that “a more diverse workforce is only effective when everyone feels included.”
Interestingly, 67 per cent of people agreed they’d avoid working for an agency that didn’t foster diversity.
The Ys were the most vocal about diversity with 44 per cent saying the issue should be creative agencies’ top priority. It was 38 per cent for the Xers and 32 per cent for the Boomers.
Commenting on the study, Adobe’s principal designer, Khoi Vinh, said: “By and large, everyone believed diversity is important and valuable. Diverse forces you to create better products, better outcomes. We should all be moving towards this. We were reassured that creatives generally do want to push for a more diverse, inclusive industry and equity for everybody.
“We look at this report as the first step in a longer campaign to start helping figure out how we can positively impact the overall numbers and the stories of everyone involved. We view this as part of our own process of understanding the problem … It’s going to directly inform some of the things that we’re thinking about in how we can best deploy our resources, our brand, our staff, our customers.”
“At a minimum, we hope that the study itself can be a conversation starter,” Vinh said,