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Landmark report on inclusion within Australia’s ad industry reveals work to be done

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By Danielle Long, Acting APAC Editor

July 14, 2022 | 4 min read

Women working in the Australian advertising industry are six times more likely than men to experience gender discrimination, and one-fifth of employees will leave the industry due to discrimination and exclusion, according to a landmark report.

ACA Create Space

The ACA has revealed the findings of a comprehensive report into diversity and inclusion in Australia's ad industry

The Advertising Council Australia (ACA) today released the findings of its Create Space Report and Action Plan, which promises a comprehensive review of diversity and inclusion across Australia’s advertising industry.

The report, conducted in collaboration with Kantar, is the result of an industry-wide census of 2,600 advertising professionals and revealed the areas for immediate action.

Among the top line findings: 58% of advertising professionals live with a physical or mental health condition, and twice as many people with a disability have been made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace, compared to those who are non-disabled (24% vs 12%).

The experience of discrimination and negative behaviour at work is almost three times higher for people who identify as Asian (31% vs 12%), and 23% of people feel anxious in their job due to identifying as LGBTQI+.

It was not all negative though, the report revealed Australia’s advertising industry is more inclusive than other industries and ranked above the national norm. It is also on par with overseas ad industries.

Three-quarters of ad industry professionals feel a strong sense of belonging to their business or organisation and 90 per cent believe they are a valued member of their team, with junior staff registering the highest levels of inclusion.

“The report marks the first time we have robust data to develop an industry-wide approach to diversity and inclusion,” said ACA CEO Tony Hale.

“The data confirms that we are a diverse industry with the vast majority of people having a high sense of belonging and experiencing low levels of discrimination. Dig a little deeper and it becomes evident that it’s not the case for everyone. As an industry, we need to be inclusive of all people, not just the majority,” he said.

Hannah Sturrock, national head of engagement at ACA, said there was work to be done.

“Inclusion does not extend to marginalised groups such as ethnic minorities, female and non-binary professionals, and others who experience negative behaviour and discrimination at work.”

“Create Space is about overturning an embedded culture and it won’t be a quick fix, but if we address each issue identified in the census comprehensively and over time, the social and economic benefits for our industry will be significant in years to come,” she said.

The ACA has released a number of action plans for agencies and businesses to adopt, including a toolkit and 6-Point Action Plan to address harassment in the workplace, build better support systems for people with mental health conditions including and ensure everyone understands the damaging impact of microaggressions.

The ACA plans to release more actions later this year focusing on ethnicity, LGBTQI+ and disability while actions linked to age, social mobility and neurodiversity will be announced in 2023.

The report comes one week after Australian pitch consultancy Trinity P3 introduced statutory declarations for agencies to declare their status and processes regarding workplace bullying, harassment and assault when pitching for new business.

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