Equality beyond Christmas: The Advertising Diversity Taskforce

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This year’s Christmas ads have seen everything from carrots falling in love to Paddington Bear foiling a Christmas robbery and a modern day Cinderella story. And importantly, amongst all this festive drama we’ve also seen a greater level of diversity than ever before.

Starbucks and Tesco have included a same-sex couples, non-Christian religious groups and family structures are represented, and the industry as a whole seems to welcome the change from the whiter-than-white Christmas ads of old.

Yet, diversity isn’t just an issue at Christmas time, when we’re looking for that extra tug to the heartstrings. It should be part of how the advertising industry thinks and behaves all year around. Diversity has finally risen to the top of many an adland CEO’s agenda this year. And the recognition that diversity, or lack of it, is impacting not just who we employ, but also the quality of work we produce.

Modern Britain, a 2016 report from Lloyds Banking Group’s highlighted this, when 67% of respondents said advertisers should show more diverse aspects of society in their advertising. In particular, it was LGBT individuals, particularly gay women (79%), disabled people (44%), and those of Asian descent (35%) who respondents felt were the most underrepresented.

What was interesting, was that 65% of respondents who took part in the study said they would feel more favourable about a brand that did reflect greater diversity in its advertising. And the first step towards including more diversity in our work, is to work in a more diverse environment.

This is why we’re a committed founding member of the Advertising Diversity Taskforce, which consists of 20 of the biggest agency names from across the media and marketing landscape. Our mission is to help affect change across the industry as we move into the New Year; helping attract more people from diverse backgrounds to our industry, and ultimately making advertising a more accessible, supportive and rewarding industry for everyone.

Along with the Taskforce’s role in helping drive wider representation of minority groups within advertising, agencies signed up to the programme will also be dedicated to: supporting mentoring programmes and talks within schools; ensuring agency space is available to young creatives; and working with partners such as the Social Mobility Foundation and Vision Path. We Are Social will be spearheading an audit of diversity across media, helping set clear benchmarks and outlining actions for improvement.

Diversity has always been important for us at We Are Social. Our UK board is over 50% female, but like most other agencies, we know there’s more we can do – and we have the desire to bring about real, positive change. Creating and committing to the Advertising Diversity Taskforce helps formalise our commitment to driving these issues front of mind for the industry, and helping those want to break into marketing by bringing down some of the barriers to entry which have long stood in the way of change.