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News 15 Nov 2021 - 2 min read

Ad Council's secret industry 'census' on gender, mental health, ethnic backgrounds; pledges 'measurable action plan' for diversity, inclusion

By Danielle Long - Contributing Editor
Diversity Ad Council

An anonymous census of agencies on December 1 will create a 'measurable action plan' on key areas of inequality and under-representation in the ad industry, the Advertising Council Australia (ACA) has pledged via its diversity and inclusion program, Create Space. The industry body wants it secret census to collect data on the ethno-graphics and experiences of professionals across the sector.

What you need to know:

  • The Advertising Council Australia (ACA) has announced a diversity and inclusion program Create Space.
  • The program launches with a census to collect data from across the industry on gender identity, social and ethnic backgrounds, mental health, family status, and experiences of inclusion at work.
  • The data will inform an action plan to tackle priority areas of inequality and under-representation.

The Advertising Council Australia (ACA)’s new diversity and inclusion program will include a measurable action plan to tackle priority areas of inequality and under-representation.

The plan, which will be released with a report next year, will be informed by the results of an anonymous industry-wide census on December 1.

The census – a first for the ad industry – will collect data on gender identity, social and ethnic backgrounds, mental health, family status, and experiences of inclusion at work.

The aim is to reveal the demographics and experiences of professionals across the sector and identify the gaps and priorities the industry needs to focus on. The report will provide “actionable steps” to tackle these “priority areas of inequality and under-representation” and will be supported by industry working groups and “a commitment to measure and report” the industry’s progress every two years.

The program is being led by ACA’s national head of engagement, Hannah Sturrock, who told Mi-3 earlier this year that accelerating inclusion and diversity within the industry would require a data-led approach.

“Our industry’s future depends on the experience of our people, both lived and learned. And now, there is serious competition for strategic and creative talent from brands, platforms and tech startups,” said Sturrock.

“To attract and retain the best people, ad agencies must create an environment where all people thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. That can’t be faked or formulated. We’ve all got to commit to create space for others in the industry, and fast, and be prepared to challenge our biases.”

A recent report examining inclusion and diversity in communications agencies revealed less than half had D&I policies in place.

It comes as the commercial case for greater diversity and inclusion continues to gather steam, with increased emphasis from clients and media owners. Last week, Unilever, Coles, and Westpac joined an alliance pledging to tackle harmful stereotypes in Australian advertising and media content.

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