The 2023 Agenda: Brands wake up to marketing’s socio-economic crisis

Marketing Week has identified the key opportunities and challenges that will shape marketers’ roles in 2023. As well as flagging what we think marketers should be spending time and money on next year, this is also a commitment from us to focus on these topics.

Diverse talentMarketing’s lack of socio-economic diversity has been a pressing issue for years.

According to Marketing Week’s exclusive 2022 Career and Salary Survey of 4,463 marketers, the industry has a mean socio-economic pay gap for full-time workers of 19.1%. Indeed, the average salary for marketers identifying as coming from a working-class background is £47,700. By comparison, marketers from an upper-class background earn on average £76,600 a year.

The analysis also uncovered a relationship between the socio-economic background of marketers and the level of seniority they reach. Some 16.6% of marketers from upper middle-class or upper-class backgrounds are in marketing director/vice-president roles, versus just 6.7% from working-class backgrounds.

Given the staggering lack of class diversity, calls are growing for brands to engage talent in new ways. One approach is to introduce marketing apprenticeships, although statistics show the industry is a long way from this becoming the mainstream.

More than half (57.9%) of marketers work for a brand with no marketing apprenticeship. Of the 4,463 respondents surveyed by Marketing Week, 21.2% say their company does not currently see the value in it. A further 10.4% say it is too complicated to develop a programme, while 6.6% cannot get buy-in at the highest level for such an initiative.

As we enter 2023 the challenges are clear to see, but some brands are pushing forward in the fight for social mobility, setting an example others can follow.

In November, drinks giant Diageo teamed up with media agency PHD to give graduates of the Brixton Finishing School the chance to take part in a one-year programme across the two organisations.

Founded five years ago, the Brixton Finishing School aims to increase graduate-level representation among underrepresented groups in the creative, media and tech industries by offering free courses and marketing qualifications to 18– to 25-year-olds nationwide.

The two graduates chosen for the year-long placement will spend rotations within the marketing team at Diageo, the hope being for the initiative to get “bigger and bigger”.

The Guardian kicked off its first six-month paid internship within marketing in September. The new recruit is working with the brand team to understand the Guardian’s identity and editorial mission, support on campaigns and dig into customer insights.

Requiring neither a degree nor previous experience, the intern is receiving the equivalent of a £27,000 annual salary pro-rated to a six-month contract, a move taken to ensure the internship is open to as diverse a talent pool as possible.

The vision is for this programme to become a rolling internship, meaning two interns will come through the Guardian’s marketing and communications function each year.

Elsewhere, Direct Line has donated £325,000 in unspent Apprenticeship Levy to the Co-op’s Levy Share service, which matches levy paying businesses with SMEs seeking apprentices. So far, the insurer has funded apprenticeships at autism charity Autism Initiatives and Greater Manchester Fire Rescue Service. This is in addition to the 220 apprenticeships currently running within the group.

Other brands have opened their doors to apprentices for the first time in 2022. In February, Amazon introduced 13 new apprenticeship schemes, including one in marketing, while in the same month BMW launched a four-year apprenticeship programme enabling aspiring marketers to learn on the job, while studying towards a BA in Business and Management.

For some businesses, the priority is rethinking recruitment. Sky announced in March it was ditching CVs for entry level marketing manager and executive roles. Instead, aspiring marketers are asked to record a two-minute video explaining their story, why a role at Sky excites them and what they do for fun. No degree or prior experience in marketing is required.

While the statistics reveal how far the industry still has to go to attract and retain talent from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, the fact brands are actively seeking to broaden their talent pool suggests there is appetite for change.

As Marketing Week highlighted with its Opening Up campaign, brands across the marketing spectrum are exploring apprenticeships, levy share, mentoring, internships and revamped hiring practices to reach diverse talent. For the health of the industry it is imperative improving social mobility is at the top of every marketer’s agenda in 2023.