In July 2020, the UK’s Advertising Producers Association (APA) published its D&I Action Plan, focusing on seven areas and organisations that would help it support its members in accessing a more diverse workforce of office staff and on-set crew, along with providing more access points for groups currently underrepresented in production.
The report shows where the association and its membership currently at with each of the actions, as well as thanking members who’ve engaged in varying capacities with the programmes.
“This is just the start though,” said APA chief executive Steve Davies. “Success requires work and long-term commitment and our members’ engagement is crucial to this. We hope to see a continued or even greater level of commitment as we continue to work on our mission for real representation through 2021 and into 2022.”
Read on for the contents of the report.
Brain child of Paul McLoone, Just Runners is designed to create a fair and equal entry system into the production industry via the role of runner either in the office or on set. Runners are recruited from film and media courses which are set up by the government and lottery funding, with a focus on drawing the best talent from across the country.
Fundamental to the organisation’s programme is that none of the runners have any pre-established connections or contacts in advertising or media, but through being represented by Just Runners they have the chance to make an impact in a highly competitive industry.
The APA and IPA have been supporters of Just Runners’ relentless drive to give talent from diverse backgrounds more access to the production sector for many years. The simple yet effective selection process and training has proven results, with 85% of JR alumni having moved into employment in the production industry in the past year despite Covid.
In June of 2020, there were 38 APA member companies using Just Runners. The reality was that this number needed to be a lot higher in order to establish the momentum needed for there to be a real shift in industry culture. This number has increased to 78.
This increase is great and a step in the right direction, but with over 300 companies across production, editing, post, sound, music and animation making up the APA membership, we’re extremely keen to see an even larger take-up of runner bookings coming from our membership.
For more information on how the programme works and getting involved you can email Paul directly on email@example.com
or else email the APA office on firstname.lastname@example.org
and we will be able to give you further details on how the programme runs.
Inspire! is a local education charity that works with Hackney, Islington and Camden councils to give young people access to environments and industries they wouldn't automatically know about. In July and August of 2020 we spoke with the team there about the different options for getting young people of school age informed and interested in working in the creative industries.
From speaking with the Inspire! team it is clear that for many, our sector and the broader advertising industry is not considered or even known of - to then be a viable career path for young people. There needs to be a better offering of creative careers knowledge being shared with parents, careers teachers and specific subject teachers across arts and media - to make it clear that advertising offers talented people opportunities for creative expression along with financial stability.
Discussions with the Inspire! team brought up a multitude of potential avenues for the APA and our membership to explore, especially with regards to being involved in careers weeks and workshops in schools, with two key areas of focus being:
1. Speaking to kids at an early stage (KS1) so that they can progress through school understanding the truly varied career opportunities associated with arts and media available to them,
2. Creating a digital “handbook” for all school staff involved in any aspect of careers guidance, to use as a reference when talking to students interested in arts and media, taking their GCSE's and A Levels.
Unfortunately as Covid continued throughout 2020 and into this year, discussions around these projects have been delayed, waiting for a moment when in-person classroom presentations and offers of work experience will become viable again.
Once this looks achievable - most likely now for the school year Sept 2021 or else looking at next year, we will begin to work with Inspire! to build a programme of APA member experts who are up for visiting some of our local schools and talking to kids about what we do.
Creative Mentor Network
We decided to partner with a mentoring organisation that has a cost attached as it helps hold both the organisation and participants accountable, as well as acknowledging that the commitment of budget towards D&I initiatives is an important statement - that such programmes are an essential part of a company's business strategy and creative success rather than a “nice to have”.
The beginning of 2021 saw the 2020 Class of 35 APA members successfully complete our first partnership with Creative Mentor Network. Their mentees are now taking their next steps in either their education or professional careers (many of whom are now in paid internship roles of employment thanks to the one-to-one guidance of their mentor), with continued support from some of our membership’s most talented and forward-looking producers, creatives and MD’s despite the official programme being over.
As the 2021 group of mentors complete their training and meet their mentees, we have big hopes for the growing community of APA x Creative Mentor Network alumni and the positive steps they’ll be able to take thanks to the sharing on both sides of the mentor/mentee relationship of time and knowledge.
Members Survey 2021
We sent out the sector’s first ever Diversity & Inclusion survey to our membership in July of 2020. The aim of collecting the data was and continues to be; to provide transparency on how we currently stand as an industry, along with providing a benchmark from which we aim to mark the progression of the production sector.
Realistically, the work being done by our members and the broader advertising industry is ineffective without there being clear and transparent measurement. As we collect this data we will also share the figures (not company names) with other key trade bodies and organisations to build a bigger and more detailed picture of where progress is and isn't being made.
The key takeaways from the 2020 survey, which focused on gender, ethnic diversity and disability within the permanent, fixed-term and freelancers engaged for a minimum of three months within APA member companies, can be seen HERE
We are currently working on the 2021 survey which will be released to members in the next month, and gives us our first opportunity to compare what impact the work that’s been done over the last 12 months has had on real representation within production.
Speakers for Schools
Speakers for Schools’ aim is to end educational inequality by giving all young people access to the same prestigious networks that are readily available to the top fee-paying schools in the UK.
Their services for all their schools and students is entirely free of charge, and our Chief Executive Steve Davies has been working with them to speak at schools across London for many years, offering insights into how the commercial production world works and what kinds of work our membership creates.
Similar to the ethos of Inspire!, supporting Speakers for Schools is about ensuring that conversations around creative workplaces being valid career choices are happening for all young people regardless of socio-economic background and immediate exposure through family and friends.
Alongside Steve Davies for the APA and other member company speakers who represent talent from the worlds of art, media and communications, there are a multitude of agencies and brands on Speakers for School's directory, resulting in a great spectrum of advertising relevant expertise on offer to school kids across London.
Unconscious Bias Training
We have worked with Challenge Consultancy to put on two Unconscious Bias Training sessions for members. Both sessions received amazing feedback from those who attended, complimenting the range of topics covered in the 90 minute session as well as the brilliance of Femi Otitoju who hosted them.
We decided to pursue UBT despite there being unfavourable coverage in the media - with some calling calling it ineffective - because there’s been a large body of research conducted at amongst others Harvard, Yale and MIT that shows us that unconscious and hidden bias or implicit associations explain a great deal of our patterns of behaviour around diversity.
UBT is part of a larger conversation, and isn’t the only thing that any individual or organisation should be involved in when it comes to questioning and undoing generations of unconscious bias. But reports including the Equality and Human Rights Commission in March 2018 have shown that the training raises awareness and therefore contributes to reducing bias because being aware that the problem exists is often half the battle.
We will look at hosting future sessions with Femi and the Challenge Consultancy but for any companies who would see benefits in their whole workforce taking part in one of their sessions, you can email email@example.com
Diverse Crew Resource
There are a number of brilliant resources and organisations that our membership have been using to improve diversity on set as well as in the office. Each covers a range of different roles and under-represented groups and we have seen you build your own trusted lists of contacts that you are now regularly using on set.
We have been working with one of these groups providing a public database of talent, to build a resource that is as “producer-friendly” as we can make it. Crewing more diversely realistically means that producers and Heads of Department need to be willing to put more time into recruiting and exploring alternative networks to their own established ones. Our hope is that once they have made that call, this resource will be able to help them in their next steps.
Supporting the Hue List, we are working to launch a website that is easily searchable across all roles and grades. Our aim is to have a database of under-represented talent who identify as being from Black, Asian, Arab and mixed heritage diaspora backgrounds, that every member can then include in their arsenal of resources, and share with their own Heads of Department for each job.
The database will remain under the control of The Hue List with APA member companies who wish to support the work of the database giving donations that allow for an employee to be engaged, who maintains quality control and ensures that aptly qualified additions are uploaded with regularity.
The main framing of the database is that the talent featured is the equivalent of the "personal recommendation" success in our sector is so heavily built on. Each individual represented on the website has the experience and knowledge to warrant the job title they hold and would be able to easily step into any role you are crewing up for.
The database will be launching later this year, with all APA members being alerted as we go live.
APA x Bectu Commercials Production Diversity Action Plan
The publication of commercials production’s first joint crew-employer diversity action-plan marks an important step forward in bringing better representation and inclusivity into our sector.
The events of last summer and the Black Lives Matter movement have been a galvanising force in moving beyond good intentions and towards implementing effective action, which is the aim of this document, collaborated on by a working group of APA and BECTU members.
We know that some of the companies’ signing-up to this action plan will already have developed successful diversity strategies; others will be at the beginning of that journey. We want this document to act as both a guide and checklist for any companies serious about changing our industry.
Along with the outlined recommendations on diverse hiring practices, encouragement to adopt a clear and visible code of conduct for all on set, the importance of creating an industry of active bystanders and the introduction of a discrimination complaints procedure, this action-plan also supplies users with a list of resources (see Appendix Three) and details on two upcoming initiatives; The Induction Opportunity Scheme and The Diverse New Entrants’ Programme that will help you across these different sections and support you in making a positive impact.
Action-plans and initiatives across industries have shown that the effective adoption of best practices when it comes to recruitment and inclusivity (even when focused on one particular under-represented group) benefit all protected groups. Our hope is that by implementing the steps outlined in this joint initiative, we will see clear changes in the sector – reflected in the continued collection of data for our annual APA member diversity survey.
The APA Masterclass
Running for over 20 years, the APA Masterclass is established as the industry standard training course for those who want to become exceptional commercial producers. Each year top people in the industry devote time to passing on their expertise via lecturing and hosting study groups.
With a weeks’ worth of packed daily schedules, we help junior production talent get their heads around every stage of the production process and hear from the experts in each area on how to get the most from them and their services. Hugely popular and always over subscribed, the Masterclass has always given priority places to students from APA member companies and even then, we’ve had to cap the number of participants allowed per company.
Appreciating the importance of the course and the doors it can open for students who pass the exam, 2020 saw us make the decision to budget for the inclusion of students from under-represented groups; with 10 places allocated to Brixton Finishing School and two to POCC.
The Kickstart Scheme
In summer 2020 the Chancellor announced a new £2 billion government-funded employer initiative that was aimed at creating six month paid work placements for 16-24 year olds who are at risk of long-term unemployment due to the pandemic.
For each Kickstart job the government will completely cover the cost of 25 hours a week at the relevant National Minimum Wage in addition to pension and National Insurance contributions. Employers also receive £1,500 per placement for wraparound support for the young person, including personal development and employability skills.
We had a great response to the APA mailer asking members who wanted to get involved to get in touch. Out of the 40+ companies who contacted us at least 30 of those are now engaging with the Kickstart Scheme and 20 of those are doing so through the Gateway partners Create Jobs, who the APA are also working with.
Create Jobs have been working in the creative D&I space for years and unlike other official government gateways have prioritised fair pay and inclusive workspaces in their application processes for the Kickstart Scheme.
Through partnering with them we are able to offer the employees who will be selected through this scheme additional wellbeing support, careers guidance and industry specific training throughout the six months that all work towards making them even more employable at the end of the placement.