What Can We Learn about the Diversity and Inclusion Challenges Facing Our Industry?

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INFLUENCER: A must read for diversity and inclusion insight from the team at Daniel Marks
What Can We Learn about the Diversity and Inclusion Challenges Facing Our Industry?

At Daniel Marks, we’re committed to diversity and inclusion and, as part of our aim to support employers looking to build a stronger, more varied workforce, we met and surveyed 120 participants as part of our ground-breaking initiative 'The Panel'.

We wanted to get a clearer understanding of the talent challenges facing employers around D&I in the current recruitment landscape. The exclusive research, brought together here for the first time, explores which challenges are considered most critical to leading decision-makers in industry and HR.

The feedback we received is invaluable and we hope it will help to shape future initiatives and provide leaders with the persuasive evidence they need to help them build real change for the future.

Our findings are based on insights from face-to-face interviews and data from our survey

We went to industry and HR leaders in the UK and USA and asked them what the most important talent challenges facing their organisations are.

In the USA, the most important D&I talent challenges are similar, but there’s a bigger focus on supporting flexible working, with 40% of leaders wanting to invest time in that particular area. 

When we look at increasing Black Asian Minority Ethnic representation across the industry, the UK and USA are pretty close. 82% of UK leaders and 78% of leaders in the USA said this key objective was important to their business; and yet the statistics show there’s still a considerable hill to climb. Creative Equals state on their site that “BAME employees make up 5.5% of senior leadership in the creative sector”, which is unrepresentative of a society with 13% Black Asian Minority Ethnic representation (at the time of the last census in 2011). By those statistics, the number of top flight executives from BAME backgrounds needs to more than double on both sides of the Atlantic if companies are to achieve true racial equality in their workplace.

Inclusivity underpins all efforts geared towards attracting, hiring and retaining diverse talent.


In the UK, 68% of leaders want to focus on building an inclusive working environment, and 74% think it is important to support mental health and wellbeing at work.

Data from the mental health foundation suggests that supporting mental health and wellbeing at work could increase productivity by as much as 12%

When we met with Sean Betts, MD of Annalect part of Omnicom, he summarised their approach to mental health; 

“Mental Health is a top priority for us across OMG UK and forms a core part of our D&I strategy of Reflecting Real Britain. We’ve been hard at work over the last 12 months setting up various initiatives since we signed the Time To Change Pledge, most importantly changing the narrative to focus on Mental Fitness as it’s something that all our people should be mindful of and actively managing. We’ve also trained c.100 Mental Health First Aiders, created Mental Health awareness training for all our line managers and invited people to share their mental health stories.”

Talking to industry leaders about D&I has been an encouraging and energising experience. The motivation for change and the passion for equality and inclusion is clear to see. When we spoke to George Bryant, chief creative officer of The Brooklyn Brothers and co-founder of Night School he commented that:

“We have an industry to change. It’s great to see the level of desire there is, but actions must follow. Words alone aren’t enough. True creative leaders must recognize the urgent need to let the most powerful voices in our culture, shine through our industry. Now is their time, not ours. We need to stand back and let them be heard.” 

On the face of it, our research would support this. 94% of those surveyed stated that D&I does factor in their business or people (HR) strategies; however only 52% have an allocated budget for it. Perhaps that’s why overall, 74% of those surveyed felt that the industry as a whole isn’t tackling D&I related challenges well enough.


Some practical tips for becoming a more inclusive employer

Incorporate D&I into your business and people strategy and make sure all levels across your organisation are committed to inclusion. Hanisha Kotecha, MD and D&I Advocate, who we met as part of our Panel initiative suggests that:

“D&I education should be invested in so that it’s underpinned in business & people strategy rather than an add on”.

Creative Equals have several highly rated workshops focused on inclusion from the what’s and how’s to strategy, inclusion councils as well as how leaders can drive inclusion. 

Communicate clearly why inclusion is important to your team so they can be part of the journey to becoming an inclusive employer. As part of Daniel Marks’ journey to becoming an inclusive employer and partner to our clients and candidates we have revisited our mission and values to be more inclusive. 

Communicate your intent as an inclusive employer internally and externally. People are more likely to want to work for your organisation if it’s inclusive and supportive of difference. 

Extend your network to attract and hire talent outside of your typical talent pool by broadening your reach when developing your talent acquisition strategy. Advertise, network, headhunt or attend events outside of where you’d normally go. Some great examples include: 

- Black Young Professionals Network

- Proud Employers

- Business Disability Forum


Make your recruitment process as inclusive as possible and remove bias. In December Daniel Marks invested in an all team workshop hosted by Ali Hanan from Creative Equals which focused on Inclusive Recruitment and understanding bias through the recruitment process. 

Be inclusive when you onboard people

“I found that so many agencies have been founded on passionate ideals and powerful principles that rarely get communicated to new-joiners. This is increasingly important as we recruit people from more diverse backgrounds. I encouraged our founders to spend one-to-one time with as many new starters as close to their start date as possible to help them fully appreciate (and can communicate) the foundations of why the agency exists and feel real pride in the organisation they have joined. If you stop bothering to communicate your purpose and remind people about why your organisation exists, don't be surprised if your purpose only lives in a well-regurgitated, wallpaper pitch slide.” - Hanisha Kotecha

Be open to share your experience of what works well and what does not Listen to feedback from your colleagues, peers and teams and see inclusivity as a collaboration which will ultimately benefit everybody. To tackle this at Daniel Marks we have partnered with All Of Us which is the first dedicated D&I social media and engagement platform to allow businesses to unite all their staff to deliver meaningful D&I solutions, great for both employees and for business. We are soft launching the platform with a number of thought leaders before a wider launch to Panel members representing all areas of the marketing services industry.

“At All Of Us we are delighted to be able to help Daniel Marks work with agencies across the marketing services sector to collaborate, share experiences and best practices, and work towards developing concrete plans, actions and data to improve diversity and inclusion, one of the biggest business challenges of our generation.” - Andrew Phillips Founder, All Of Us. 

Consider intersectionality when approaching your D&I strategy

“Intersectionality, for me is hugely important because while companies like to put people in boxes, we rarely see ourselves as boxes - mostly because so many of us fit in more than just one. I'm a British Asian Female and I found there were lots of initiatives for women and then lots of initiatives for people of colour but nothing really out there that educates society on the nuances of both. Similarly, I have Black friends who are gay and feel hugely neglected by many diversity schemes and don't get me started on disabilities. Your research highlights that people are still most willing to look at the obvious, visible 'differences' rather than the more challenging and important concept that lots of people have lots of differences. It's a hard one to push forward, especially with hiring people from ethnic minority backgrounds has become a shortcut to 'diversity'...” - Hanisha Kotecha 


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be brave, speak out and be a changemaker. 

There’s still a long way to go on our journey for equality and inclusion in the marketing services industry, but our findings demonstrate that there is an appetite for change and a willingness to make a material difference.

At Daniel Marks we’re committed to inclusion and diversity and will continue to share plans on how we can make an impact on the specific areas identified in our conversations with industry leaders. Expect to see a deeper discussion with more practical tips from us and industry leaders participating in The Panel over the coming months on All Of Us and across our social media channels.

We will be running our industry leading initiatives, The Planning Academy and The Big Bang in 2020 as we aim to attract a wider breadth of talent into the industry.

To learn more about our upcoming initiatives, to become a judge or to get involved with The Panel on All Of Us, contact me directly.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has contributed to The Panel so far by meeting Gaby, and filling in our D&I survey (as this is anonymous we can’t name you); Ed Bernardino, Talent Acquisition & D&I Partner at Grey, Jemima Garthwaite, CEO at This Here, George Ryan, SVP, Global Brand Projects at Copa90, Melanie Norris MD & Head of Planning at BBDOKNOWS, George Bryant, Chief Creative Officer at The Brooklyn Brothers, Tarek Sioufi, Chief Strategy Officer at The Brooklyn Brothers, Dan Saxby, Founder at The Elephant Room, Shanice Mears Co-Founder & Talent at The Elephant Room, Jamie Williams, Managing Partner at isobel, Chris Ward, Co-Founder & CEO at Klive, Ronnie Smith Head of Talent Acquisition at Unlimited Group, Ivana Veselinovic-Jethwa, Group Head of Talent at eight&four, Inkling, Cubo & Feed, Hannah Wells, HR Director at Spark 44, Ursula Marchese, Group Head of Talent at RAPP Code UK, Jo Tauscher, Managing Partner at Leo Burnett / Fallon, Frazer Gibney, CEO at FCB Inferno, Fern Nott, Head of Talent at The&Partnerhsip, Katie Lee, CEO at Lucky Generals, Matthew Waksman, CSO at Love or Fear and Andy West, Media Consultant.

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Genres: People

Daniel Marks, 3 months ago