As the UK becomes increasingly diverse, marketing teams and advertising agencies are asking themselves whether this diversity is being accurately represented within their own industry. But according to integrated marketing agency, Mediareach, while numbers of people from BAME backgrounds are increasing within agencies, representation at C-suite level remains low and that could be having a direct impact on the bottom line.

According to data from the 2020 IPA Agency Census, 15.8% of staff at media agencies and 12.3% of staff at creative / other agencies are from a BAME background. Although this is roughly in line with the number of BAME people living in the UK (13.8%), it is well below the IPA’s 2015 targets of having 25% of new starters from a BAME background by 2020.

Al-Saraf, CEO at Mediareach, stated: “BAME representation at C-suite level is just 4.7%, well below the IPA target of 15% and the struggle to meet diversity targets is even more pronounced in more senior roles, with recent data showing that 37% of the companies within the FTSE 100 did not have a single director from a BAME background. Although the numbers are slowly increasing, questions could be raised over the lack of representation in boardrooms when compared to the number of BAME people living in the UK.”

Having more diversity within teams has been shown to have a positive correlation with financial performance. McKinsey analysed data from Canada, Latin-America, the UK and the US, and found that companies within the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to see financial returns that exceeded their country’s average. Companies with higher levels of gender diversity were 15% more likely to see higher than average returns.

“There are other significant benefits as well. A study from Harvard Business Review found that companies with more diverse teams were more likely to solve problems faster, as they were able to bring a wider perspective of opinions to the table,” continued Al-Saraf.

A Deloitte survey revealed that greater levels of diversity could reduce high turnover rates: 39% of workers said that they would leave their organisation to join a more inclusive one, while 23% of respondents said that they already had. Furthermore, a survey by Glassdoor found 3 out of 4 job seekers in the US say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when considering a job offer, demonstrating that more diversity can help to attract new talent to a company.

Saad Al-Saraf continued: “A more diverse team can also help increase the creative output of your team. That being said, while increased diversity can be extremely positive for brands, it’s important to consider how these diverse teams will function in practice. If companies begin hiring more inclusively – while having little consideration of how to manage a culturally diverse team – they may be quickly accused of having made ‘token hires’. Brands and agencies should be aware that their efforts to create a more diverse workplace are part of a broader strategy, and not just a tick-box exercise.

“Brands and ad agencies still have more to do when it comes to having an inclusive and representative workforce. Greater diversity could create a lot of positive changes, but long-term inclusion strategies need to be in place for brands and ad agencies to get the best results from a diverse team,” concluded Al-Saraf.