Diversity initiatives have manifested in different forms across the globe over the last few years – activism, legislation, equality movements and awareness of career pay gaps. But have we in digital advertising really embraced inclusion and diversity, and where does the ultimate responsibility lie in championing it further?
At the IAS Innovation Summit, we gathered leaders from across the digital advertising industry to address this exact question and understand if the advertising industry can be doing more to champion diversity. The invited speakers have all championed diversity within their respective organisations, but as each of them hold different roles, the questions posed highlighted various perspectives on the topic.
2020 has moved diversity and inclusion into the spotlight
The IAS Innovation Summit panel was led by Katie Grosvenor, Head of Buy Side Sales for Northern Europe at Integral Ad Science; she hosted guests from Essence, MiQ and Bloom to discuss activities across the industry and who should hold responsibility for diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Katie Grosvenor opened the panel discussing the statement that, “the role of advertising is to reflect society.” Diversity in advertising, both in the final product and the creative process, builds better conversations not only for our industry but also society. “In 2020, we’ve seen brands changing their creative,” Katie continued, “and while that’s important, if you don’t change your methodology and process then you’re falling at the first post.” And that leads on to the first main discussion point for the panel – has inclusion become integrated into processes and conversations across the industry?
Deborah King, VP Paid Social EMEA at Essence responded to this by saying that there is no one right answer here: it’s imperative that brands are agile and to be aware that diversity and inclusion is an ongoing debate. Her poignant comment that while change is expected, there’ll be more changes to come and the conversation is a machine with many moving parts that will require constant fine-tuning and maintenance.
Jackie Randhawa, brand marketing strategist and member of Bloom, states that while reactive changes are a step in the right direction for tackling diversity and inclusion challenges, organisations need to look inward as well as outward. They need to display bravery of thought and commitment backed up with commercial objectives. Moving away from archaic KPIs based on white, affluent communities and look towards a more diverse customer base.
Commenting on the extensive supply chain in digital advertising, Kayode Ijaola, Group Trader Manager at MiQ said that often a message founded with inclusion in mind can be lost once it’s made its way through the supply chain. He noted that, “the lack of conversation around inclusion can have detrimental effects on the delivery of responsible ads.” The good news however, is that Ijaola sees that “communication has improved globally” as a result of the momentous events of 2020.
It’s a marathon, not a race
With so many stakeholders, approval processes, and supply chains, it’s a fatuous concept that diversity and inclusion should live with one person, or one team. And that is the key learning from this IAS Innovation Summit conversation; it’s the task of individual self reflection and forcing changes that will improve the diversity of our industry. “It’s a marathon, not a race,” concluded King.
To hear the full conversation from the IAS Innovation Summit on driving change in the advertising industry, watch the session here.