ACA releases Create Space Census results: launches action plan to address gender inequity, mental health and negative behaviours across the Australian advertising industry
In an Australian first, Advertising Council Australia (ACA) has today released the findings of its Create Space Report & Action Plan – a comprehensive review into diversity and inclusion across Australia’s advertising industry.
The report, a collaboration with global insights agency Kantar, provides rich data into the makeup of the industry and people’s experiences at work – highlighting strengths, pinpointing gaps and identifying areas for immediate action.
Its release follows ACA’s inaugural Create Space Census in December 2021, which attracted 2,600 responses from advertising professionals across the sector.
Says Tony Hale, CEO, ACA: “Create Space is brilliant. For the first time we have robust data to develop an industry-wide approach to diversity and inclusion.
“The data confirms that we are a diverse industry with the vast majority of people having a high sense of belonging and experiencing low levels of discrimination. Dig a little deeper and it becomes evident that it’s not the case for everyone. As an industry, we need to be inclusive of all people, not just the majority.”
The Create Space Report reveals that Australia’s advertising industry is more inclusive than many other industries globally, ranked well above Australia’s national norm and on par with overseas advertising industries.
Three-quarters of ad industry professionals feel a strong sense of belonging to the organisation they work for and 90 percent feel that they are a valued part of their direct team, with junior staff registering the highest levels of inclusion.
Says Hannah Sturrock, national head of engagement, ACA: “However, inclusion does not extend to marginalised groups such as ethnic minorities, female and non-binary professionals, and others who experience negative behaviour and discrimination at work.
“Create Space is about overturning an embedded culture and it won’t be a quick fix, but if we address each issue identified in the census comprehensively and over time, the social and economic benefits for our industry will be significant in years to come.”
The report’s topline data reveals that women in advertising are six times more likely than men to experience gender discrimination, 58% of advertising professionals live with a physical or mental health condition, and one-fifth of employees are likely to leave the industry based on their experiences of discrimination and exclusion.
Twice as many people with a disability have been made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace compared to those who are non-disabled (24% vs 13%), experience of discrimination and negative behaviour at work is almost three times higher for people who identify as Asian (31% vs 12%), and 23% of people feel anxious in their job due to identifying as LGBTQI+.
ACA’s calls to action include adopting a suite of measures to address harassment in the workplace, outlined in ACA’s new Create (SAFE) Space Toolkit and 6-Point Action Plan; building better support systems for people with mental health conditions including becoming a Mental Health First Aid Skilled Workplace; and ensuring everyone understands the damaging impact of microaggressions in order to reduce their incidence, with resources designed to help identify, report and respond to everyday demeaning behaviour.
ACA D&I Committee chair and president of WWP, Australia & New Zealand, Rose Herceg said that the industry’s path forward on DEI is clear: “The results of the Create Space Census are in. Organisations across the industry now have a comprehensive guide to ensure their workplaces are welcoming and inclusive of everyone.
“Many companies have their established policies on DEI. Adopting recommendations from the Create Space Report and Action Plan will help to accelerate progress in the most critical areas.”
Each Create Space action will be supported by online workshops that give people the opportunity to hear more about how to implement them in their workplace.
Further actions based on the Create Space Report findings, and co-created by industry working groups, will be released later this year, focusing on ethnicity, LGBTQI+ and disability. Actions linked to age, social mobility and neurodiversity will be announced in 2023.
More resources, toolkits and training options will be added to the Create Space Hub in coming weeks, with ACA committed to benchmarking the industry progress on DEI every two years.
Summary: Create Space Census Report & Action Plan
● Australia’s advertising industry is comparatively more inclusive than many other industries globally, with a globally-recognised Kantar Inclusion Index Score of 62 – far higher than the national average of 43 and on par with the global ad industry score of 64
● 75% of respondents feel a strong sense of belonging to their company and 90% feel that they are a valued part of their direct team
● Junior staff had the highest inclusion score at 67. U25s are driving the high inclusivity of junior staff as the inclusion index sits at 73 for this age group
● The industry is not complacent when it comes to DE&I, with 73% of respondents saying their company is actively taking steps to improve in this area
Areas for improvement
● 8% of women vs 3% of men have experienced sexual harassment in their workplace in last 12 months
● 1 in 4 female middle managers are likely to leave the industry based on their experience of discrimination or lack of inclusion, vs 1 in 10 male middle managers
● 28% of ad industry professionals are affected by an ongoing mental health condition – higher than the Australian population at 15%
● Experiencing discrimination and negative behaviour at work is almost three times higher for people identifying as Asian (31% vs 12% to those identifying as ‘Australian’)
● Among the LGBTQI+ people in our industry, 32% choose to hide their sexuality at work
● Microaggressions, or negative behaviours, are experienced by almost 50% of respondents
Create Space Action Plan: Priority areas for immediate action
Action #1: Address gender inequities by improving the experience and retention of female talent
To help the industry ensure a safer working environment for women, ACA has developed a Create (SAFE) Space Toolkit that provides six clear steps to address sexual harassment and victimisation in the workplace.
Companies can access self-assessment tools, factsheets on how to tackle behaviours that drive sexual harassment, a trauma-informed guide to responding to disclosures, understanding and updating whistleblower plans and policies and developing victim-centred NDAs. ACA members can also access safety and wellbeing services and ‘safe space’ training with one of Australia’s leading employment law experts, Danny King Legal. Additional resources address female representation in senior leadership, parental leave, and the gender pay gap.
Action #2: Improve experiences of talent with mental health challenges
To increase awareness of the signs of mental stress in the workplace and improve support for people with mental health conditions, ACA is encouraging the industry to adopt and share the Mentally Healthy Minimum Standards, download the RUOK? Practical Workplace Guide to encourage and guide conversations about mental health, and to become a Mental Health First Aid skilled Workplace in 2023.
Action #3: To address negative behaviours reported across the whole industry
To educate teams on what constitutes a microaggression, their impact, and the best course of action to raise and deal with them when they occur, ACA is urging the industry to download and implement ACA’s Field Guide to Tackling Microaggressions while contributing to and sharing a set of microaggression and allyship awareness tools to build a more supportive workplace culture.