Leading Agencies Come Together To Tackle Diversity In Leadership Roles

Leading Agencies Come Together To Tackle Diversity In Leadership Roles
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Last night, The Agency Circle, a national voluntary body committed to action in gender and diversity, launched to the communications industry.

Driven by a commitment to stop the talk and start addressing the issues, they shared findings from a recent survey conducted across 15 leading creative agencies in Australia, with over 1200 people responding.

The agencies involved included:

303 Mullen Lowe
BWMDentsu
CHe Proximity
Clemenger BBDO
DDB
Havas
JWT
Leo Burnett
Marketforce
M&C Saatchi Group
McCann
TBWA
The Hallway
The Monkeys
VCCP

The survey drew on recent IPG and AAAA studies measuring diversity in the UK and US media industries, providing the first opportunity for the Australian industry to benchmark itself internationally.

Four core themes were identified: recruiting a more diverse workforce from the ground up, with a call to ‘stop hiring in our own image’, creating more family friendly working practices and embedding them into agency culture, supporting and developing mid level women into more senior positions and actively seeking to recruit, develop and retain women in creative roles.

At entry level the industry looks healthy with an even male/female split, but at executive management level the ratio drops to 60/40, and in the C suite the numbers fall to 82/18.

The results give leadership teams a way to measure their own agency’s performance against the aggregated industry scores. As Agency Circle members they’ll decide where they over and under index and what needs urgent attention. They also now know if and where the gaps exist between their perceptions of their agency’s scorecard on gender and diversity and that of their staff.

The Agency Circle’s role is to create an open, but action focused forum where agencies will acknowledge their focus on change in the year ahead. The survey will be conducting annually.

Michele O’Neill, director of strategy at VCCP and inaugural Chair of The Agency Circle, said: “You’re either in or you’re out, enough of the rhetoric. We’ve been having this conversation for over 30 years. We’re working towards real change agency by agency. We all know the issues. The study has just given us a revealing set of numbers for each agency to improve upon. And we’ll keep each other in check, tracking progress and reporting back. We’re in this together, agencies have enough opportunities to compete, this isn’t one of them.”

The Agency Circle is committed to assisting the industry by offering tools, advice, best practice and proven initiatives to enable agencies to develop and implement their own initiatives to improve diversity performance. Each participating agency will receive a fully aggregated report.

Several agencies surveyed are already ahead in their journey with initiatives to improve their gender and diversity score card:

  • Training on unconscious bias
  • A review of workflow practices to reveal outdated working structures
  • Changes to the sourcing of entry level talent, ensuring a mix of applicants from more diverse educational backgrounds beyond a tertiary degree
  • Sending Creative Directors to leadership training which makes a significant difference to their understanding of broad agency issues
  • Flexible working arrangements and acceptance of these arrangements for a family friendly workforce, including staggered starting and finishing times.

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