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As diversity drops, AA, Isba and IPA assemble inclusion action group


By Imogen Watson, Senior reporter

May 6, 2020 | 3 min read

In a bid to improve diversity within the UK’s advertising industry, the Advertising Association (AA), Isba and the IPA have created an 'Inclusion Group' to tackle the issue head-on.

The Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA team up to tackle diversity

The Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA team up to tackle diversity

The news follows the IPA's recent agency census, which detailed a breakdown of the make-up of agencies with IPA membership for 2019. The census revealed that ethnic diversity had fallen fractionally, year-on-year, with the number of employees from an ethnic minority background at 13.7%, down from 13.8% in 2018.

Headed up by Kathryn Jacob, chief exec of Pearl & Dean, the group pulls together luminaries from across the industry.

Alongside Jacob, membership includes Isba's head of media, Bobi Carley, the IPA’s associate director, diversity, Leila Siddiqi, Saatchi & Saatchi’s managing director, Sarah Jenkins, Channel 4’s marketing chief, Zaid Al-Qassab, 4creative’s business director, Jane English, GSK’s EMEA media director, Jerry Daykin, Creative Equal’s founder and chief exec, Ali Hanan and Sharon Lloyd Barnes, commercial director of the Advertising Association.

The Inclusion Group will meet monthly to try and improve the diversity of the UK ad industry through its workforce and creative output.

With the knowledge that a great number of initiatives already exist, the group’s first action is the launch of ‘UK Advertising Needs You’ - a hub that pools together resources to make them readily available.

Arriving from initiatives such as BAME2020, Creative Equals and Brixton Finishing School, the hub features advice for candidates looking to join the industry, alongside resources for employers looking to develop ways to recruit from the widest range of candidates. It will cover neuro-diversity, disability, age, gender as well as racial diversity.

With the hub live, the group is now working on a creative campaign to build awareness and to direct the industry towards the hub as a central bank of information and guidance.

A focus on inclusion is part of the AA's mission it unveiled back in January at the Lead conference, pledging "to promote the role and rights of responsible advertising and its value to people, society, businesses, and the economy."

The move follows calls from inclusivity advocates last week to keep diversity of thought top of mind when it comes to choosing who leaves a business during the coronavirus pandemic.

With agencies scrambling to cut costs via furlough schemes, pay cuts and layoffs, data from the US Department of Labor showed unemployment is rising fastest for women and people of color.

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