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What is measured matters: the global inclusion census must only be the beginning

What is measured matters: the global inclusion census must only be the beginning

More than 100 organizations have joined together to create the marketing industry’s first worldwide diversity, equality, and inclusion census. Camelia Cristache and Will Gilroy of the WFA discuss the scope and significance of the program.

Diversity is a major issue, not only in marketing, but in society as a whole. Making the sector more diverse and inclusive is likewise a complicated and multifaceted task. However, the World Federation of Advertisers has been greatly encouraged by the cross-industry cooperation received in attempting to address it.

The UK industry has been a source of inspiration. In March, the Advertising Association, ISBA, and IPA, in collaboration with Kantar, published the All In Census, in which over 17,000 people in the UK advertising and marketing services replied to questions on the socio-demographics and inclusivity of their sector.

This served to provide the groundwork for a global study, which is now being conducted in 27 nations. WFA’s national associations, which are ISBA’s sister organizations, are pushing the sampling locally alongside their agency association counterparts, which are the local equivalents of the IPA.

These replies will be supplemented with data from the UK’s All In Census. Campaign, Kantar, Advertising Week, Cannes Lions, the Effies, GWI, and, most importantly, the agency organizations EACA and Voxcomm are all on board.

In an unprecedented display of industry solidarity, large multinational corporations such as Diageo, Heineken, and GSK, as well as agency holding groups such as Omnicom, WPP, and Havas, are cascading the poll down through their own organizations.

Furthermore, the backing of a lengthy number of trade groups representing European sales houses (Egta), worldwide and European advertising standards (ICAS and EASA), publishers (EPC), and technology companies (IAB Europe) are also received.

Inaction cannot be justified by complexity. But it hasn’t been easy. Nobody has ever conducted a worldwide industry poll to investigate the condition of diversity and inclusion in our business, in part because the regulations governing what you can and cannot ask of individuals vary greatly from nation to country.

And in various countries and areas, variety implies different things. In certain markets, gender diversity is a difficulty; in others, religious views, sexual orientation, or age-related concerns are. There are few things that are more culturally unique.


There are weeks of back-and-forth between Kantar’s London attorneys and the national organizations’ lawyers to produce a local survey with an English text and a local translation that appropriately incorporates local laws and cultural sensitivities.

Of course, while The Global DEI Census is dubbed, it’s not technically a census because everyone in the business can’t be expected to fill it out. Given that it requests personal and sensitive information, it must be opt-in, implying that the sample is biased.

This intricacy, however, cannot be used as an excuse for inactivity.  A worldwide industry baseline, the first-ever global picture of diversity is necessary in all its manifestations, so that our industry can design a global action plan and help develop the tools and procedures that are most required and where. This can then be used to inform local action strategies. Because true change can only be driven locally.

More than ever, research is required. Many inequities have been exacerbated by the epidemic, not just in society but also in our profession. It has been heard that certain DEI initiatives have been postponed or halted. There are also indicators that women are abandoning the profession in various places.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand and declare that none of this is acceptable. But, accomplishment can be achieved if one knows where he is right now. Because only by comprehending the current circumstance will help someone to get to where he wishes to be tomorrow.

As the adage goes, what is measured matters. It is already known that many people throughout the world are gathering various types of data on diversity. Their efforts cannot be replaced, but it is rather possible to build on and supplement them. It is not just about collecting sociodemographic data, but individuals are also being questioned about their sense of belonging and their opinions of progressiveness.

And this cannot be a passing fad. It will be repeated in 18 months with the goal of assessing change, and then systematically after that. It’s been a massive project, but it’s been heartening to see so many people wanting to be a part of a truly inclusive effort to accomplish something that’s actually good.

It can act like a mature industry by taking this strategy. The problem is identified and gathering data is done to determine its magnitude. Once after having that information, what has to be done in depth can be done. In the autumn, that discussion will pick up steam.