Marketers urged to ‘crack industry open’ to older talent as study confirms youth bias

The latest All In Census of marketing and advertising professionals reveals signs of progress on creating an inclusive industry, but there are still issues that need to be addressed.

Around three-quarters of marketers are below the age of 45, according a survey of more than 19,000 marketers, underlining the industry’s youth bias problem.

These findings tally with the results of Marketing Week’s Career and Salary Survey, which found 74.6% of marketers were aged between 26 and 45. Just under half of working adults in the UK are younger than 45.

As well as being a minority in the industry, older marketers are also facing additional challenges, according to the latest All In Census conducted by the Advertising Association, ISBA and IPA. Just over one in 10 (12%) of respondents within the 55 to 64 age bracket have felt personally discriminated against due to their age.

Talking on a panel today (11 May) discussing the data, Boots CMO Pete Markey said there was a need to “crack the industry open” to older and more diverse talent.

He said fast-track training to allow people from diverse backgrounds to get to grips with skills was one way to create a more diverse workforce. Another step is “to be clear [to prospective talent] that if you haven’t got the technical skills, what kind of personality or qualities [they] could bring to the job that we’re looking for in the industry”.

‘Rudely interrupted’: How should marketers handle the industry’s ageism problem?

For the first time, the census also asked questions around the experience of going through the menopause in the industry. Around one in four women surveyed say would not feel comfortable approaching their manager about menopausal symptoms.

The survey also finds many females face difficulties returning from parental leave. More than half of women who responded to the question reported taking parental leave had negatively impacted their career progression.

Almost three in 10 (29%) women feel their gender is a hindrance to their progression in the marketing and advertising industry. Marketing Week’s 2023 Career and Salary Survey found female marketers working full-time are paid, on average, 16.5% less than their male counterparts. This figure is higher than the national gender pay gap, as reported by the ONS, which was 8.3% in April 2022.

The latest All In Census is based on the views of advertising and marketing practitioners from companies such as Google, British Gas and Tesco to assess the inclusivity of the industry.

Encouraging ethnically diverse talent

The 2023 All In Census finds a lower level of discrimination, bullying and harassment against ethnic minorities versus 2021 levels. Notably, the number of Asian marketers who report they are likely to leave the industry has fallen from 27% in 2021 to 21% this year.

However, three in 10 black marketers report they are likely to leave the industry due to a lack of inclusion and/or discrimination. While the Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey has a smaller dataset, it found black marketers are paid an average annual wage of £48,529, a considerable drop from the average for white marketers, which is £64,713 a year.

One in 10 people from an ethnic minority have experienced discrimination at their current company, finds the All In research. Black respondents are more likely to have experienced discrimination at their current company versus any other minority group, with 14% having personally experienced this. Asian people are the second most likely group to have experienced discrimination at their current company.

The respondents to the survey are more ethnically diverse than the UK population, with 18% of respondents from a minority ethnic background. Of those 4% are black and 8% Asian. However, the figures on inclusion and the people from ethnic minority backgrounds considering leaving the industry suggest marketing and advertising workplaces need to do more to retain diverse talent.

Promoting social mobility

Those working in the marketing industry are more than twice as likely to have gone to a fee-paying school (19%) versus the general population (7%).

The proportion of working-class people in the industry is also just half that of the general population, with 20% of respondents being working-class versus 39% of the industry.

As well as pay gaps based on ethnicity and gender, Marketing Week’s Career and Salary Survey also revealed a mean socio-economic pay gap for full-time workers of 18.2%.

Marketing fails to address 18.2% socio-economic pay gap

When it comes to retaining talent across the industry, one in five respondents to the All In Cencus say they are considering leaving their company in the next 12 months. Overwhelmingly, these prospective leavers are motivated by the potential of a better salary or opportunities elsewhere, with 71% listing this as a motivator. This was followed by the need for a better work/life balance or changing careers.

For the first time, respondents were asked about hybrid working. On average, marketers are working 2.2 days in the office; however, the number that respondents would ideally like to spend in the office is 1.9 days.

Across the board, one third of respondents report being affected by stress and/or anxiety. For 14% this was primarily work-related.

Signs of progress

There are signs of progress on creating an inclusive industry in this year’s All In Census, with analysis presented by Kantar and supported by UK advertising think tank, Credos finding respondents’ sense of belonging is up two percentage points (ppts) from 2021 to 71% and a presence of negative behaviour down one ppts to 15%.

The All In Inclusion Index score is 69%, which is up two ppts since 2021.

In some areas, such as representation of different sexual orientations, the industry performs well. There is a significantly higher proportion of LGB+ people in the advertising and marketing industry versus the UK average.

However, in areas such as disability, there is much progress to be made, with 11% of all respondents and 8% of C-suite respondents having a disability, based on the Equality Act 2010 definition, lower than the 14% in the UK working population.

“This second All In Census provides us with an even richer set of data to understand where we need to focus efforts to make progress,” says All In Working Group chair and CEO of Pearl & Dean Kathryn Jacob.

“The All In team and the many All In champion organisations are committed to taking these latest results and using them to help drive forward to achieve a fully inclusive workplace for everyone who works in our industry.”



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