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Advertising Association The Future of Work Work & Wellbeing

UK advertisers focus on mental health, disability and LGBTQ+ workplace improvements


By Ellen Ormesher, Senior Reporter

June 9, 2022 | 5 min read

All In, the inclusion initiative developed by ad bodies including the Advertising Association, IPA and ISBA, has announced the next three actions it will be addressing to build more equitable and inclusive workplaces, covering mental health, physical disability and the LGBTQ+ community.

All In banner

Previous actions aim to improve the experience of female, Black and Asian, disabled, working-class and older talent

These three actions have been developed by the Advertising Association’s Inclusion Working Group, industry groups Nabs and Outvertising, and industry professionals with relevant lived experience. They join existing actions on improving the experience and representation of female, Black and Asian, disabled, working-class and older talent.

The nine steps of the action plan have been shaped by the data gathered from the All In Census, which saw 16,000 advertising professionals take part. The All In Census, the industry’s first inclusion survey, will be repeated in March 2023 and then every two years to track progress.

Next week will also see the reveal of the first All In Champions – companies that can evidence that they are championing this work and have adopted the action plan to date.

What are the new areas for action?

  • Support the mental health of workers. Companies are asked to donate and signpost to Nabs, the advertising and media industry’s wellbeing charity. Nabs lost £1.75m in revenue during the pandemic while experiencing a 23% surge in demand for its services. In addition, All In Census data found one in five of those with mental health conditions are likely to leave their company due to a lack of inclusion, compared to 12% across the industry. Less than half (42%) of people with mental health conditions have made their company aware of their condition.

  • Improve the experience of LGBTQ+ talent. Companies are asked to welcome the use of gender pronouns in their organizations. According to data from the All In Census, 45% of LGBTQ+ people reported stress/anxiety compared to a 31% industry average. LGBTQ+ people are more likely to have been made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace (20% v 13% of heterosexual people).

  • Improve the experience of disabled talent in the workplace. Companies are asked to use the BDF accessible premises checklist. Just 2% of those working in advertising have a physical disability compared to 7% of the UK working population. Data from the All In Census shows 43% of physically disabled people believe their company could offer more support in dealing with their health condition.

Why these issues?

Kathryn Jacob OBE, chair of the Inclusion Working Group and chief exec of Pearl & Dean, explains: “The pandemic has shone a light on the importance of supporting our industry’s wellbeing and services such as Nabs, which cannot continue its vital work without everyone’s help.

“As we announce the next three All In actions, every company has a dedicated roadmap to change at their fingertips. All In Champion status is something all organizations in our advertising community should strive for to demonstrate they are serious about their commitments to building a workplace where everyone belongs.”

Last month, Nabs published data it had gathered in the first half of 2022, which revealed calls to its helpline regarding mental health were up 15% on both 2020 and 2021 figures – with mental health concerns now accounting for a quarter of all calls, and therapy referrals up by 50% year-on-year.

Sue Todd, chief executive of Nabs and chair of the mental health working group, says it’s an important issue in the industry that needs “our united effort, and that’s why we’re teaming up with All In on its mental health action plan. Nabs is here to support everyone in adland with our services.”

Mark Runacus MBE, joint chief executive of Outvertising and chair of the LGBTQ+ working group, says that this is also an opportunity for the UK creative industries to lead the way in belonging. “By welcoming and encouraging the use of pronouns, employers can help LGBTQ+ employees bring their full authentic selves to the workplace and strongly signal the importance of inclusion for everyone. We believe that in doing this we’ll all be more creative, more innovative and more productive.”

Danny Josephs, client partner, MFUSE, chair of the disability working group, says: “Having addressed the need to make the industry’s websites accessible, now we turn to the real front doors. Over 6 million of us have mobility issues, yet just 27% of offices are wheelchair accessible (YouGov Feb 2020). All we want is a level playing field – quite literally.”

Advertising Association The Future of Work Work & Wellbeing

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