2023 Create Space Census results announced

| | No Comments
2023 Create Space Census results announced

Advertising Council Australia (ACA) has today published the findings from the second Create Space Census, a program to measure and improve diversity and inclusion across Australia’s advertising industry.

The census ran in November 2023, two years after the first. Almost 2,500 people responded to the anonymous survey which used Kantar’s Inclusion Index to benchmark performance.

Says Hannah Sturrock, national head of engagement, ACA: “Over the past two years, significant effort, time, and money have been invested in creating inclusive workplaces and progressive policies.

“Awareness of inequality and underrepresentation has increased notably. Create Space is here to ensure we remain vigilant and continue to grow both as individuals and as an industry.”

The census reveals progress on several fronts. Females now dominate all five census levels: C-suite/executive management, senior staff, middle management, junior management, and intern/junior executive – with females in executive management and C-suite roles increasing from 46% in 2021 to 54% in 2023.

35% of respondents say they’ve noticed significant changes that have positively impacted diversity and inclusion in their company over the last two years, and overall awareness of companies’ DE&I strategies and policies has increased by 6 percentage points (pts) to 59%.

Small improvements in discrimination and sexual harassment were noted, with casual discrimination falling 4pts and sexual harassment dropping from 8% to 6% for females over the last 12 months.

2023 Create Space Census results announced

There is also evidence of a more open culture, with a 6pt increase in people sharing mental and physical health challenges with employers, and a 5pt increase in LGBTQ+ people who are ‘out’ at work.

WPP ANZ president and D&I Committee Chair, Rose Herceg said it was encouraging to see some positive changes in the data – evidence that organisations are taking action: “These are wins. Progress is progress, especially as part of a long-term program that aims to drive systematic change over time.

“However, there is a perception gap that exists across the industry, with those most likely to report positive changes belonging to the C-suite, being aged over 45, or identifying as heterosexual or male.

“That means the groups most affected by the lack of inclusion and representation are not feeling positive change as much. We need action that makes a difference to all people at all levels.”

The industry’s overall Inclusion Index Score has dropped from 62 to 56, driven by a lower sense of belonging and an increase in negative behaviour. This mirrors a global trend in declining Inclusion Index scores, reported in eight out of twelve markets between 2019 and 2022.

2023 Create Space Census results announced

The Create Space score was driven down by perceptions of bias around hiring and career progression, insufficient support for skills development, and feeling undervalued compared to colleagues.

The Inclusion Score now aligns with the national norm at 55, measured by Kantar in 2022, and is just ahead of the global advertising, marketing, PR and market research industry benchmark of 54.

Almost 1 in 5 people still say they’re likely to leave the industry due to a lack of inclusion or discrimination, similar to 2021. This increases to 23% of females, 27% of LGBTQ+ people, 28% of females who’ve taken parental leave in the last five years, and 30% of Asian respondents.

ACA CEO, Tony Hale said that despite the Australian ad industry’s performance being aligned with global trends in DE&I, the drop in ranking was disappointing: “The future of Australian advertising is reliant upon a wide variety of people feeling that they are included and listened to. Average is not good enough.

“However, the green shoots in the data suggest our strategy is correct and industry leaders are increasingly aware of the importance of DE&I. We must now stay the course. It’s brilliant to see female representation at senior levels growing steadily and we now know we have to address equitable career development and training, particularly for people managers, as key drivers of inclusion.”

Adds Sturrock: “Australia’s ad industry has done a good job updating its policies and approach to DE&I but the work must continue to translate strategy and intent into action and accountability at all levels, not just the C-suite where the most change is being seen.

“The six actions in the Create Space Action Plan have proven to be an effective framework. We urge the industry to use them to reflect and reset, as we continue to foster a sense of belonging in the workplace.”

The second wave of Create Space research builds on the 2021 census, which inspired an in-depth report, action plan and suite of tools to help companies of all sizes make headway on DE&I. These resources and the updated report are freely available to the whole industry at the Create Space Hub.