Comms Council target for all members to have diversity policy and plan in place by the end of 2018

Posted 31 October 2017.

Thanks to all of our members who participated in the recent Diversity & Inclusion Survey. We were heartened by the response from members and the results have provided useful insights into the current state of diversity within the industry and a baseline to progress from.

Widespread support, but lack of D&I policies & programmes in place

The research highlights widespread support for diversity and inclusiveness, however there is a gap when it comes to formal policies and programmes. Nine out of ten respondents believe in the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. However, less than a quarter (24%) were aware of their organisation having any diversity policies, programmes or initiatives. This lack of awareness extends to senior levels, with half stating they had no formal policy, programme or initiatives relating to diversity and inclusion.

In response to the survey, the Comms Council has identified three key objectives:

  1. Increase awareness of the benefits of Diversity & Inclusiveness in the communications industry workplace, through Board engagement, DWNZ engagement, awareness of training options and a 12-month communications plan;
  2. For every Comms Council member agency to have a D&I best practice policy in place by December 2018, through engagement with HR leaders and practical support through workshops;
  3. Assist with the development of a more diverse talent pool through engagement at both High School and Tertiary level

We know that our members want to do better in the area of diversity and inclusion, yet many aren’t sure about the best way to go about it. Like any area of business, if you want to do better you need to have a plan. Formal diversity policies and programmes provide a framework and help guide behaviours and measure outcomes and that’s why The Comms Council is issuing the challenge for all member agencies to have a D&I best-practice policy in place by December 2018.

We believe this is an important and achievable goal and are committed to supporting our members to make this happen. We support a best-practice, action-based, measurable approach to D&I to effect positive change.

Comms Council’s best-practice D&I policy guide and policy workshop

The Comms Council will develop a Best-Practice Diversity & Inclusion Policy Guide for members to help turn support into action that encourages greater diversity within the industry.

We will also be hosting a policy workshop for HR leaders and HR champions within agencies in the first quarter of 2018. This practical workshop will feature a guest speaker, outline the impact of diversity commercially, provide a suite of useful tools and suggest how to promote diversity and implement policies and tools to improve in this area. If you are interested in this event, please pre-register your interest with Katie Ward at

Summary of research findings

Feedback suggests that many are thinking about diversity in terms of gender, but it’s broader than this. Truly diverse and inclusive leadership takes into account age, ethnicity and gender.

  • The majority (70%) of respondents felt that their place of work was diverse, yet perceptions of the diversity of their leadership team and the industry as a whole were much lower.
  • Of the CEOs and Managing Directors who participated in the survey, 63% were male, and 37% were female. Those in senior leadership roles were overwhelmingly of European ethnicity. About half the agencies surveyed had individuals of non-European ethnicity in their senior leadership teams; two had individuals of non-European ethnicity as Managing Director or CEO.
  • Gender splits varied significantly by discipline/department. Creative/design was the most male skewed 58% male/39%, HR/Admin was the most female skewed.
  • The advertising and communications agencies surveyed were significantly younger than the total working population as a whole; 61% were under 35 versus 27% in the total NZ working age population. Whereas 23% of the working age population is 50-64, only 6% of those sampled fell into this age group.
  • There are more of European ethnicity in the industry compared to the general working population (87% versus 73%). One in ten respondents were of Asian ethnicity (versus 13% of NZ working age population). Pasifika peoples accounted for 3% versus 6% of working age population, while Māori were the most under represented, accounting for 4% versus 13% in the working age population.
  • Proportions of LBGQT people within the industry mirrored those in the population as a whole, and similarly for different religious beliefs.
  • There appeared to be very low representation of people with disabilities or special needs with 1% of respondents having a disability or special need of some kind.

The benefits of achieving greater diversity for our people, industry and clients are irrefutable. Greater diversity provides access to broader talent delivering creative advantage, greater innovation, improved decision-making and higher commercial returns.

We know that we won’t transform our industry overnight, but are committed to doing what we can to help our members improve one step at a time in this important area.