As a company that champions diversity and inclusivity, we were extremely disheartened to read the findings of a recent study conducted by Marketing Week which suggest that the majority of marketing firms in the UK are failing to represent minority groups.
According to the survey of 745 marketing professionals carried out in October this year, a large proportion of those questioned felt their departments were not representative of different minority groups, including sexualities, disabilities and ethnicities. What’s more, nearly half (42%) of marketers believe that the brands they work for aren’t adequately representing modern society in their advertising and marketing campaigns. Perhaps even more worryingly, this lack of representation is also being felt by consumers. According to the second element of the two-part study, which questioned 2,000 UK consumers about their thoughts on the issue, 65% of respondents think advertising is failing to reflect the wide variety of lives and experiences of people throughout the country. In addition to this, more than a third (38%) disagreed with the statement that brands represented the realities of modern Britain through both the messages they deliver and the people they use in their campaigns. Aside from the moral argument, there is evidence to suggest that brands who fail to communicate with specific groups of society miss out on valuable sales. One example of this is the homosexual market, which Stonewall claims to be worth between £70 billion and £81 billion in the UK alone. Most marketers seem to realise this – just over half (54%) agreed that tackling diversity challenges would make customers more likely to buy from their brand, compared with the 30% who felt it would have no impact on purchasing decisions. However, this still isn’t being fully reflected in the workforce. While around half of marketing professionals felt their brand had become more diverse over the past decade, there was still over a third who felt that no progress had been made. There also remain some clear gaps in the representation of minority groups. More than half (51%) of respondents said there were no people with physical or mental disabilities working in their department; while more than a quarter said the same for both LGBT (27%) and ethnic minority (26%) members of staff.
So what can businesses to do ensure they don’t exclude certain members of society? Maggie Semple, founder of her own fashion brand and herself a black woman, said that although business should hire people based on their ability – rather than filling a “quota” of minorities – leaders should reevaluate their attitudes regarding diversity and see how their company can become more inclusive.
At Lucy Bristow Creative, we’re happy to say that we select our candidates based on their skills and suitability for the role, irrespective of their background or ethnicity.
Image: Handshake – Hard Times by Spot Us available under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license