The Great British Diversity Experiment gears up to prove benefits of diverse workforce

The Great British Diversity Experiment will launch today (11 January) at Google HQ in London, with the aim of providing concrete evidence on the benefits that diverse teams bring and ultimately encourage businesses to change hiring policies.

Champions of the advertising, tech and communications industries will be brought together for the the project, led by founders Nadya Powell (managing director, Sunshine), Daniele Fiandaca (co-founder, Creative Social), Alex Goat (managing director, Livity), Jonathan Akwue (the new chief executive at Lost Boys), Laura Jordan-Bambach (creative partner, Mr President).

Powell outlined how the project came to fruition, saying it was spurred by The Drum’s Diversity Census which uncovered "a shocking lack of diversity within the communication industry."

"In every communications business across the UK we have rooms of similar people coming up with similar ideas. Not only does this have a commercial impact – bye bye competitive advantage – but it also means the solutions and ideas we are creating are not representative of society or challenging norms," she said. "The industry is in need of a serious shake-up - which is exactly what we’re looking to do.”

To conduct the experiment, organisers have recruited a diverse set of individuals – diverse according to age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background and ability - who will be set the challenge of using advertising and tech to hack some of the world’s biggest issues.

The volunteers will be organised into groups on the premise that since the groups will be made up of people from different different countries, cultures and backgrounds as well as age and gender, finding common terms of reference will be more difficult. The experiment looks to prove this will lead to more diverse thinking and creative output.

Global insight and strategy consultancy Flamingo and their quantitative research partner Tapestry have partnered with the event and will use a range of observational and ethnographic methods (the study of human behavior in its most natural and typical context), both in person and using their self-ethnography app, to help track the success of the experiment. The research agency will then look at the creative process and group dynamics during the experiment phase in an effort to produce quantifiable results.

Greg Wells, director of Flamingo: “We're really proud to be the research partner on this as the cause is something we believe in and feel in our own sector of the industry. We're extremely excited as we believe it's a unique project, which will provide some fantastic insight into the creative process and group dynamics, and feels timely, both for our industry but also the wider cultures to which we belong.”

Following today’s experiment, the founders will take their findings to the stage at SXSW 2016, led by Karen Blackett (chairman, MediaCom UK) as speaker and the group’s lead creative partner, BBH, who are providing the brief, mentoring and guiding the research process throughout.

A lineup of speakers including Eileen Naughton (managing director, Google UK & Ireland), Karen Blackett (chairman, MediaCom UK), Miranda Brawn (vice chair, Black Cultural Archives), Scott Knox (managing director, MAA) will also join the project's launch.

Overall, there will be 40 mentors from across the industry who will support the 120 volunteers partaking in the experiment.

The experiment comes to an end on the 15 February, with the team who came up with the best answer to the brief set to be announced 24 February. The initial findings announced at SXSW and the full findings of the experiment will be announced on the 28 April at DigitasLBi.

Last year The Drum conducted its Diversity Census; a peer survey that took place on thedrum.com over a four week period to establish the levels of diversity across the marketing industries, identify trends and gauge the temperature when it comes to attitudes towards diversity. As part of the Diversity Census, The Drum invited individuals from across the marketing industries to tell their stories about how being ‘different’ has shaped their careers.

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Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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