Advertising has a problem with diversity. When it comes to representation, the industry as a whole has repeatedly shown to be in a state of inequality.
In 2018, in many ways, this included us. Like many agencies who’ve grown quickly, we’d historically relied on word of mouth or recommendations from our team when it came to hiring. It’s an approach that worked well for us in the early years and had the added bonus of being pretty cost effective. We hired friends of friends and took clients’ and staff’s family members into the agency on work experience.
But we realised that to build an inclusive and representative team, we had to change. So early in 2018, we set up and ran our first agency diversity survey to help us understand who we are and identify the areas where we have more work to do. And in the meantime, we began working harder to see a group of more representative candidates when recruiting, as well as cracking down on nepotism by stopping casual work placements.
We then formalised the actions we’d been taking (and added new ones), and held ourselves accountable for progress, through creating our first official Diversity & Inclusion Charter for Change for the UK. It was a three year programme of action which would run to 2021, covering People, Culture and Work, to really shift the needle.
Our 2021 Diversity & Inclusion Charter for Change
2021 is the year we were due to revisit our Charter. We’ve come a long way since 2018; while we were performing well in many key areas, there were others that had not been given enough attention over the previous two years.
So, we decided that the next iteration of the Charter would not run for a three year period, but for one year. It would include a fresh set of ambitions, across our People, Culture and Work. The shorter time period will ensure we maintain momentum, along with offering greater transparency and accountability.
The new Charter would also incorporate the actions we’re taking to ensure we build a culture at We Are Social that is actively anti-racist, which were published as an addendum to our last Charter in July 2020. These include introducing training for all staff that guides and supports them to have difficult conversations about race and diversity; ensuring there is a candidate from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background for every single open role in the business; using our blog and our social channels to give more diverse voices a platform in the UK creative industry and more.
You can find the full Charter published on our website here, alongside a new page that explains the makeup of our agency in more detail. And because actions mean more than words, the new Charter also includes an update on where we are now.
Here are our 7 key Charter ambitions for our UK team:
1. We commit to diversity, inclusion and equal representation in all departments and levels of seniority.
2. Social mobility is a key barrier to entry. We will address this in our hiring approach.
3. We will create a culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance and supports mental health.
4. We will create a culture of open dialogue, understanding and respect for different cultural and social values.
5. We will ensure our clients and the suppliers we work with are aware of, and share, our values.
6. We commit to creating work that is progressive, and represents different cultural and social values in an authentic way.
7. We will ensure that on and off screen talent is diverse and representative within our productions.
Delivering everything in this Charter is the responsibility of the UK board, chaired by me. We will share an annual report on our progress, both internally and publicly.
We are committed to helping our clients connect with their audiences in meaningful ways. True inclusion and representation at every level is key to creative innovation and success. We are committed to putting diversity at the heart of everything, both what we do and who we are - so that our business truly reflects the communities we help our clients engage with.
If you’d like to join our growing team at We Are Social, you can see our open roles here: https://wearesocial.com/uk/people