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The Drum

It is beyond time the media, marketing and communications industries woke up to the BAME opportunity

Why is it that professional services careers, such as accountancy, finance and banking, have attracted BAME candidates on an increasing level, and not media, marketing and communications (MME)?

Adrian Walcott

The stats speak for themselves. In 2015’s ‘A List’, out of 418 executives, 79 (19 per cent) were women and only eight (2 per cent) were BAME. Shockingly, in the second decade of the 21st century, it is still possible to go to a leading marketing or communications industry event and only see a handful of black or Asian faces in the room.

Yes, there are still generational perceptions to overcome in understanding MMC as a professional career… Yes, there is still a degree of unacceptable ‘unconscious bias’ across hiring companies and… yes, as an industry we have to work much harder to attract, retain and create diverse teams – teams that are built on a richness of diverse talent that reflects today’s society and the demographics of the global stage that is now MMC.

It’s a bit like a stuck record. When asked by CEOs and CMOs to see more diversity on shortlists, we have to tell clients that there simply isn’t enough diversity working in the sector – YET!

Our industry can influence brand perceptions of the future. And, we have a powerful responsibility when it comes to how we approach and harness consumer thinking across today’s international marketing landscape.

Right now, research has shown that in many cases, the messaging that consumer advertising gives is not on point, or reaching audiences in a way that truly talks to diverse audiences or reflecting the country populous, because it is not being underpinned by the right mix of diverse talent. And why? MMC teams are simply not reflecting the general populous. That’s just one reason we urgently need to attract more diversity into the sectors to ensure that modern advertising talks to everyone in the right way and retain them so young talent progresses to leadership roles within the industry.

It is also why initiatives such as #BAME20/20 can be game-changing. #BAME20/20 has been specially created to encourage more young people from BAME backgrounds to consider marketing, media and communications as a career of choice. A career that they can be proud to embrace. It is also looking to drive a shift in generational thinking around what represents a ‘professional career’.

The aim of our programme is to work towards ensuring that 20 per cent of the total young talent that enters MMC sectors each year comes from BAME backgrounds and that in time, 20 per cent of leadership roles are represented by BAME talent. It is a long-term programme based on ‘attract and retain’ that is committed to sustainable change.

We have created a powerful senior advisory group made up of some of the top talent in the MMC sector who are supporting our team of younger ambassadors of rising stars. Our ambassadors will be creating and helping to implement imaginative campaigns to engage the school and college community to consider MMC as a career of choice.

And, for #BAME 20/220 it’s about much more than words. We have a firm expectation that within the next five to 10 years we will see more BAME talent rise to the very top of our sector.

Adrian Walcott is CEO and founder of The Sizzle Brand Marketing Consultancy