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Focusing on talent diversity will fuel ‘do different’ creative work

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We all know the marketing and advertising industry’s approach to diversity needs a shakeup if it’s to continue to deliver truly creative and representative communications for clients.

DNA works across the marketing and advertising agency landscape and, though we can see the industry is changing, there are areas in which it can do more. The classic redbrick university recruitm​ent model is never going to truly represent diversity and this has been proven in the work agencies are delivering for their clients. In the ads created by the top 20 advertisers (December 06 2016), just 19% of people featured reflect ethnic minority groups.  

Developing the talent base in the creative industry with a greater mix of people from ethnic minorities should help to address this issue but diversity extends into other areas, gender balance and the age of agency people in particular.
While the UK’s population continues to age, it still seems to be the case that the adverting/marketing agency world is a "young person game” (November 24, 2016). The average age of employees at agencies is 33 and women, (who occupy fewer senior positions than men), are more likely to leave the industry before they are 50.

As recruiters we speak to candidates day in, day out and shockingly, it seems senior candidates who are north of 50 are becoming the forgotten figures in adland. This is worrying because this generation not only struggle to get job opportunities, they even struggle to even get interviews. Again, as recruiters, it’s our responsibility to show our clients that candidates who have years of valuable industry experience are not only practiced experts but that they are industry leaders who should be recognised as such.  
Flexible working is not just on the rise, it's a way of life.  Part-time working mothers are jumping back into work – able to complete work more quickly and adopt a more agile working method due to time constraints. This is a group of people with the ability to use time effectively away from an office and we'd imagine this group will only grow in number over time allowing more flexibility for both parties.
Geography is also a key issue in the diversity debate. London has always been seen as the epicentre of the advertising and marketing industry as well as the hub of creativity – with agencies outside the M25 ring road dismissed as “regional” and part of the cottage industries. Of course, times and opinions are changing and it’s both encouraging and exciting to see the growth of the creative industry across the UK in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool, and Leeds to name a few. As a recruitment business we’ve adjusted our set up to reflect this growth and now have a UK wide network of clients and candidates alike with partnerships in Manchester, Birmingham and the Midlands.
 There are several practical ways that we can embrace this creative challenge:
1.       Expand the talent pipeline
It’s important that we consistently send agencies the right talent but we can only recruit as well as the agency plan allows us. Offering a fully consultative service means we can give clients a great view on what’s happening in terms of talent trends in the industry. With this view we hope they’re encouraged to consider hiring candidates across a wider range of sectors.
2.      Look in new places
Employment levels are at their highest since 2012 so it’s a practical time to look elsewhere for talent. The apprenticeship side of the agency world is ripe for growth, which will give people from diverse backgrounds a chance and provide agencies with a firm hold on diversity as they prepare for the future. 
3.      Understand the impact of Brexit 
We need to consider whether Brexit will stifle diversity and what it means for the future health of the industry talent pool. While permanent talent is desirable, Brexit may lead to an increase in hiring in the world of freelancers as agencies and their clients work on more project based work rather than retainers. 
4.      Launch pilot recruitment schemes 
Agencies are considering bespoke ways to recruit their own talent. Iris Worldwide’s Potential scheme is a good example. Smaller agencies should embrace a non-traditional method to recruit talent or risk missing out on some talented gems, whether this is through apprenticeships or work placement scheme the focus should be on inclusion.  
5.      Acknowledge the rise of in-house opportunities
Clients are building larger in-house resources, providing the opportunity for people to move in-house at early stages in their marketing careers and recruiting more people with agency skills. 
6.      Embrace flexible working
Work with talent, for instance working mums, to use the available technology that allows for flexible hours. One of DNA’s clients has claimed they get more bandwidth and focus from their part-time working mums than their full-time counterparts as they have to squeeze their week into fewer days.
As recruiters, it’s important that we continue to challenge our clients and encourage agencies to diversify their talent pool with broader ranges of experiences and backgrounds. Ultimately this should bring different skillsets to the table and impact positively on the range and quality of creative work, which surely will only be viewed as a good thing?



For more on our day at the MAA #DoDifferent Awards click here.

DNA Recruit was sponsor of the recent MAA #DoDifferent Awards.