Future 100 rate 'diversity' and 'retaining talent' as industry priorities

Future 100 rate ‘diversity’ and ‘retaining talent’ as industry priorities
A Future 100 Club panel at The Future of Media 2023

The next generation of media leaders believe diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as retaining talent, is the most important topic for the industry in 2024.

The Media Leader asked The Future 100 Club class of 2022 and 2023 to rank 10 issues that would make the greatest impact on them personally and professionally if leaders made this their top priority in 2024.

Of those who responded, DE&I came out top, closely followed by talent retention.

Some of the reasons cited include the need for diversity of thought, the slow progress in the industry thus far and how diversity can fuel innovation and creativity.

Brands “should be prepared and committed” to support minority groups, one participant said, while another stressed that DE&I “isn’t just a ‘nice to have’ — it’s non-negotiable”.

In the survey, DE&I was followed by talent retention and effectiveness as the most important topics.

Some respondents also suggested other themes that are important. They include cookie deprecation, workplace flexibility and mental health.

However, by far the most-discussed topic was AI — how it impacts creativity and efficiency, ethical concerns surrounding its use and what it means for people’s jobs.

Jay Safdar, EMEA growth and retention marketing director at WEX, said: “Everyone will probably be incredibly slow to adopt AI because marketers spend so long aligning internally, managing bureaucracy and politics. Those that can cut through this will become standout brands.”

Charlotte Price, global senior product manager, creative, at MiQ, said: “This buzzword isn’t going anywhere in 2024, but it’s yet to be seen who will come out ahead in the race for best use of AI.”

That said, Lesley Myers-Lamptey, head of commerce strategy at MSix&Partners, stressed: “How we use generative AI to improve, inspire and inform will have a profound impact — but it’s the human creativity that will deliver excellence.”

Key challenges and opportunities

In line with The Year Ahead 2024 event on Thursday, participants also shared some thoughts on what would happen this year.

Simon Akers, founder and partner at marketing consultancy Archmon, predicted: “Cost-of-living increases across the board will impact on frivolity of spending and the best or most effective media and campaign executions will likely be those without pretence, and maybe not always the prettiest, to drive customer acquisition or category growth on essentials or competitively priced luxuries.”

Ryan D’Cruz, group client strategy director at Hearst UK, also expected challenges. He noted: “Unfortunately, I see 2024 creating more division amongst UK society. Pro-Israel or Free Palestine, Labour or Conservative, Trump or Biden, Team GB vs everyone else.

“These divisions mean there will be challenges on how marketers communicate cohesive messaging which resonates with the whole of the UK and brings people together. With challenges around context, creativity in media will be more important than ever.”

Kayla Jaffe, audience manager at UM London, took a more positive view. She said: “An unexpected highlight will be England’s triumph in the Euros and securing gold in the Olympics. Despite inevitable moments of darkness, these sporting events will play a crucial role in uniting communities.

“The challenge and opportunity in the coming year pivot on brands harnessing the positivity and shared pride generated by sporting achievements to promote cohesion and optimism, countering prevailing political pessimism.”

As Evie Clifton, paid social account director at Mindshare, concluded: “Brands can be on the right side of history and generate not only financial success but genuine impact through their media too, which can drive positive outcomes for the planet, their audience and in turn their brand and its identity.”

In October 2022, the industry was asked what they wanted The Media Leader to champion in 2023 and the top three topics were sustainability, talent retention and trust in media.

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