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Agencies Agency Culture Diversity & Inclusion

39% of UK agencies employ no people from underrepresented ethnic groups, study finds

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By Sam Anderson | Network Editor

May 19, 2022 | 3 min read

A study conducted by agency membership community The Agency Collective and Nottingham-based digital agency Hallam has found that almost two-fifths of UK agencies employ no people at all from underrepresented ethnic groups.

Intended as the inaugural benchmark in a yearly study, the research surveyed over 100 agencies from the UK. The focus was on smaller agencies (over 50% employed fewer than 10 people) but also includes larger agencies (up to 100+ headcount).

In addition to finding that 39% of those surveyed employed no workers at all from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds, the study found that more than half of the agencies surveyed were “less diverse than the general population.” The data tells a story of some employers lagging behind while others are making real progress; 23% of the agencies in the survey were above the UK’s averages in terms of ethnic diversity.

The study authors found that this disparity may be down to leadership: if leadership is predominantly white, the agency’s workforce is likely to be too. Speaking of problems at the top: 75% of leadership teams were exclusively white. Only 43% of leadership team members were women, despite a slight skew toward women (48%) in the overall workforce.

Barriers to ascension

Hallam’s Kiorhte Aghoghogbe highlighted that the data indicates that, even when they are given early-career opportunities, the industry is failing to progress both women and people of color to leadership roles. “I’ve worked in the agency world for a long time now and have often been the only Black person working at that company,” Aghoghogbe said. “The issues of diversity and inclusion aren’t answered unless the managing director or the owners find it’s going to affect them, winning a pitch or making them money. They won’t touch the subject until an RFI comes in and it’s like, ‘right, who can we round up? Who can we show in the pitch to show we’re this diverse agency?’”

Aghoghogbe and The Agency Collective’s managing director Ellie Hale agreed that progression is a core issue, and that it can’t just be addressed at the point of promotion to leadership. Hale said: “People making hiring decisions, and in charge of promotions, have to actively encourage underrepresented groups to apply for roles and promotions. Historically, unless your first working experience is positive – one that enforces confidence and ambition in you – the learned behavior is that you can’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t strive or push.”

“Especially for women in agencies, it tends to be: ‘Well, women just don’t apply,’” said Hale. “Well, why aren’t they? It’s not enough to just hire the right people for the job any more. It doesn’t matter how educated you think you are – there’s always something you can learn.”

Agencies Agency Culture Diversity & Inclusion

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Hallam

We’re a multi-award winning full-service digital agency based in the UK, and a trusted partner to some of the world’s biggest national and international brands.

Putting digital at the heart of our clients’ future success, we create innovative strategies that deliver significant growth and exceptional results through our integrated web design and development, SEO, PPC, CRO, Social Media and PR services.

We strive to innovate and share expertise and for the second year have organised the Midlands’ biggest digital conference - Nottingham Digital Summit. This event brings together industry experts from the likes of Google, Virgin Media, Jaguar Land Rover and Experian to inspire over 700 local business people with the latest digital trends to grow their companies. What’s more, all proceeds go to support The Nottingham Samaritans.

Our services

As a full-service agency we’re able to use our combined expertise in a range of digital marketing specialisms to create multi-layered campaigns and strategies:

- Our high-impact technical SEO campaigns deliver results that improve client visibility in search engine results pages;

- We create award-winning websites – technically sound, visually stunning, with seamless user experiences;

- Taking paid advertising to the next level, our data-driven insights and highly crafted, bespoke in-house tools deliver business-changing results;

- Tailored PR campaigns have raised clients’ brand awareness and secured top coverage across the digital landscape;

- We have a proven strategy using testing tools and monitoring clients’ online visitors, establishing the greatest impact on CRO and delivering permanent performance improvements;

- Harnessing the true power of social media we build creative, innovative campaigns that truly create a digital buzz.

Bringing together industry-leading expertise, we employ 65 people across core delivery teams from our Nottingham base.

Our clients

We partner with international organisations such as Speedo, The United Nations, Esso, Saint Gobain and Suzuki as well trusted UK brands such as Raleigh, Travis Perkins, The BBC, Jägermeister, TTS Group and Castle Rock Brewery. We consistently deliver transformational results; on average our clients see a 69% rise in organic traffic, 54% increase in ecommerce revenue, and a 65% increase in lead generation.

- Raleigh Bikes’ new website delivered improved conversion rates with a 675% increase in ecommerce revenue year on year, and a 370% increase in their Black Friday sales attributed to our Digital PR campaign;

- We helped Speedo deliver brand consistency across national and international digital channels, streamlining their online user experience;

- Our social media strategy for the United Nations helped them reach more than 15 million users worldwide;

- A bespoke website for Virtual Runner increased their average spend per transaction by 80% with a 57% increase in subscriptions since it’s launch.

“Hallam have delivered above and beyond what we expected, and are an absolute joy to work with.” ~Rikke Hennum, Campaign Coordinator, United Nations Free & Equal Campaign

Our people

Developing our staff, both personally and professionally, is one of our business objectives. We invest heavily in staff training and development, with wellbeing initiatives that include weekly yoga sessions, unlimited home working and mental health training.

We invest a combined 900 hours per month (2 days per employee) on a protected learning time initiative with everyone receiving an annual training budget of £2,000 to use on courses of their choice.

Our awards

We’re incredibly proud of our track record. Our work has been recognised across numerous industry-renowned awards with five trophies at The Drum Recommended Agency Awards, including the Grand Prix - award for overall best digital agency.

Our awards and nominations span all areas of our expertise. It’s just one of the things that pushes us to stay ahead of the curve for our clients and it’s a great feeling when that work gets noticed. Check out a selection of them:

The Drum Recommended Digital Agency Awards

- Grand Prix - Agency of the Year (40-99 Staff) Winner

- Search

- Usability

- Client Service

- Full Digital Service

Google Premier Partner Awards

- 2019 EMEA Winner of the Growing Business Online Award

- 2018 finalists in Shopping Innovation and Display Innovation

DADI Awards

- finalist

UK Digital Experience Awards

- Best Online User Experience B2C - Silver

- Best Agency - Winner

- Shortlisted for three awards in 2019

European Search Awards

- Best Large SEO Agency - Finalist

- Best Large PPC Agency - Finalist

- Shortlisted in five awards in...

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