Diversity is key to creativity with impact | Simon Lendrum

Posted 30 May 2022.

​Advertising at its best has a symbiotic relationship with culture; it draws from the culture it operates in and in return, it feeds that culture.

It stands to reason, therefore, that for advertising and communications to fulfil its potential, those who deliver it should fully reflect the cultures that it intends to inform. It is inarguable that this has not, historically, been the case.

​So how are we doing? In October of last year the Comms Council conducted a research study to understand the diversity of our membership. In summary, we’ve made progress in some areas, but have work to do before we can claim to be fully representative of all of New Zealand.

The headlines are as follows:

- At the broadest level, a majority of our industry identifies as female, with 66% female, 31% male, and 3% non-binary.

- Only 7% of respondents were Māori and 3% Pacific Islander. Compared to a population that is 16% Māori and 8% Pacific Peoples, this is not where we need to be.

- We are doing better in terms of Asian representation, but still not at representative levels.

What these headlines obscure, however, is that we’ve got further still to go when it comes to leadership, and diversity within specific disciplines. Work too, in ensuring we are doing enough to attract and include people with disability and neurodiversity.

Beyond the stats, we found that staff embrace the benefits to business of diversity but feel more needs to be done to improve our representation. Of equal importance is the broad acceptance that attracting diverse talent requires us to adapt our environments to be truly inclusive of historically under-represented groups. Only then will we see a fully diverse industry reaching its full potential in the work that we do.

The Comms Council is working in a number of ways to support the industry’s desire to be more diverse, equitable and inclusive:

- We are developing an industry employment brand platform to raise visibility and attractiveness of the wide range of career opportunities available, with an emphasis on historically under-represented groups.

- In the mid-term we are exploring how to evolve our existing graduate recruitment programme to ensure that it can reach talent beyond the confines of ‘graduates’, recognising that university attendance is not fully equitable.

- We’re building relationships with pathways organisations, skills-based entities, and organisations that can help our industry recognise what is required to build fully inclusive organisations.

- We are working with member agencies to identify all the great work that is already being done in this space, allowing us to identify gaps where other member agencies, alongside Comms Council, can continue to increase our collective reach, at high school level, with pathway organisations, and with graduates and other entry-level talent.

- We have been recruiting for a Future Talent Manager to focus our capability in delivering to the initiatives above, and are delighted that we have made an appointment to this critical role. We will introduce that person in mid-June.

We would welcome further engagement with member agencies on this topic. Here are some immediate actions that you can take:

- Join us for our free Speaker Series event on 15 June to hear from Diversity Works to get a good understanding of inclusion, diversity and the historical context of diversity in New Zealand.

- If your agency wants to assist by building relationships with high schools or pathways organisations, get in touch and we will help you on that journey.

- Register your interest with us to be informed as we develop our industry employment brand platform, so that we can arm you with material to present a consistent industry voice to our efforts. Simply email office@commscouncil.nz and we will make sure you are informed as we progress.

In the meantime, please enjoy the rest of this newsletter, which has some great content so relevant to this topic.