Clearer progression plans and opportunities to remove discrimination and counter unconscious bias are needed in the advertising and media industries, says new research from NABS.
The new study brings together 70 hours of diaries and face to face conversations about wellbeing, hopes and fears, and the need for industry change with LGBTQ+ and ethnic minority people working in advertising and media, alongside students from the Brixton Finishing School and the ADcademy entering the industry.
Since the start of the pandemic, NABS has experienced a 30% drop in income to £2.3m, while experiencing a 23% increase in users of its services. More than half (55%) of these calls relate primarily to mental health.
Other takeaways from NABS’ survey include the need for managers to understand individuals’ backgrounds in order to better tailor their support and style to each employee, as well as the need for a more inviting industry that focused less on “who you know” and more about “what you know”.
There are also calls for a more centralised resources of industry support and unity, including better mental health support for newcomers who may struggle to feel a sense of belonging without deep industry knowledge and experience.
The study also highlighted that belonging and inclusion depend on reciprocal interactions – employees who put themselves out there to contribute professionally expect something in return from their employer and the industry at large.
There are also signs that the industry in heading in a more inclusive direction, with those surveyed highlighting as positive developments the hiring of diversity strategists, the use of blind CVs in recruitment, and normalising time to support mental health.
“Our research tells us that even though we are more aware of the issues surrounding D, E, and I, and some efforts are being made to create a more inclusive industry, we have much more to do to change our structures and behaviours,” NABS CEO Diana Tickell said.
“Too many people still don’t feel as though they belong in our industry. We must take meaningful action to change that.”
Moving forward, Tickell added: “NABS will now focus on a two-pronged solution to drive positive change across the industry. We will launch supportive services aimed at marginalised individuals, as well as helping managers across the industry to lead with the empathy needed to create more inclusive teams.”
Tickell is leaving as NABS CEO and will next month be replaced by Sue Todd, the outgoing CEO of magazine trade body Magnetic.