#AdvertisingSOWhite: How to Address the Chronic Lack of Diversity in Advertising

Adverts are everywhere: on our buses and at our sports games; on our radios and TV’s; on our clothes and in our phones. On the whole, they are indiscriminate about who sees them; the advertising industry’s principal concern is finding new ways to make you watch what they’ve made. But do they represent the society they are trying to reach? It is no secret that advertising is not the most diverse industry, but now the drastic lack of diversity both behind and in front of the camera is threatening to leave the industry irretrievably separated from an increasing percentage of its target audience.

“Does our industry have a problem? In a word, yes.” This is the diagnosis of Richard Robinson, Managing Partner at Oystercatchers, and campaigner for increased diversity within the industry. In inner London, for example, 51% of the general population are from a BAME background, but only 20% of people in adverts come from a diverse background. And, in terms of in-agency discrimination, as Nishma Robb, Head of Ads Marketing, UK Google and Chair of Women at Google Uk can affirm, the situation is just as dramatic: “Women hold only 30% of executive roles, and those, like me, from an ethnic background, occupy only 12% of roles across agencies… only 8% in terms of senior leadership. The question is, what is happening? And what needs to be done about it?”

For Nadya Powell – co-founder of The Great British Diversity Experiment & SOWhite, the problem is not just an…

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