Report: 1 In 7 Will Leave The Marketing Industry Due To A Lack Of Diversity & Inclusion

A new study from the World Federation of Advertisers has found that one in seven people in the marketing industry globally will leave the business due to a lack of diversity and inclusion.

The WFA calls the study the "first-ever DE&I census of the global marketing industry.” It is based on responses from more than 10,000 marketing pros to a survey conducted in June and July of this year. WFA led the effort in partnership with Kantar and in collaboration with other industry organizations.

The most common forms of discrimination identified by the survey were family status and age, with 27% agreeing that their company does not treat all employees fairly regardless of family status and 27% agreeing that their company does not treat all employees equally regardless of age.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents agreed that age can hinder one’s career while 40% of women agreed that family status can hinder one’s career. 

The report also found “strong evidence” of gender pay gaps in some markets. In the US and Canada, for example, the gap is worst among those starting their marketing careers with a 13% gap in the US and a 20% gap in Canada. 



There were similar findings for ethnic minorities, who score lower on key questions such as “I feel like I belong at my company” compared to ethnic majority groups in nearly all markets. In the US, 17% say they have faced discrimination based on their racial background. In a number of markets this is also reflected by a pay gap. That said, in many markets surveyed, ethnic minorities or foreign nationals reported being paid more than the ethnic majority.

Sense of belonging varies widely, per the study. The global average for “company sense of belonging” is 68%.  In the US, the score averages 66%, peaking at 71% among white respondents and compared to 59% among ethnic minorities.

Despite numerous problems on the DE&I front, most of those polled reported that they believed their organizations are taking steps to address diversity and inclusion. The majority feel their company is working hard to become more diverse and inclusive, with 60% of global respondents agreeing. Many of the major ad-marketing holding companies and a number of marketers announced programs designed to improve diversity, inclusion and equity at their organizations following last year's murder of George Floyd by police in Indianapolis. That murder launched a global movement demanding social justice reforms. 

The US topped the chart at 83%, although there was a 14-percentage point difference between white respondents and those from ethnic minorities. However, in some countries this figure is significantly lower. In one market, only 26% of respondents believed their organization was taking active steps to address diversity and inclusion. 

Details of the findings covering the US and Canada will be announced at Advertising Week New York later today (Oct. 18). The session can be viewed by registering for a free digital pass on this link. The full findings will be shared with each participating market later this month with the full global overview with detailed analysis published later this year.

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