It is an acknowledged fact that there is a significant diversity problem in the marketing industry. In fact the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) has recently announced that it is teaming up with Campaign magazine to ask member agencies to contribute to an annual league table that will list gender splits by department and seniority.

It will also show the percentage of Black, Asian and Minority-Ethnic (BAME) employees in each agency. According to Tom Knox, the new IPA president: “This is not a ‘nice-to-do’. It is a necessity if we wish to remain relevant our clients, to society and to the people we need to attract into the business.”

The percentage of the IPA’s employed base from BAME groups is 13 per cent. Women account for 25.6 per cent of those at the most senior levels.

Flexible Working

This lack of diversity may partially explain the apparent lack of flexibility in jobs in this sector. If flexible working is seen as a women’s issue and there are less women in senior roles then it may not be deemed particularly relevant. However, this is a very short-sighted approach as it means that the sector will haemorrhage talent, as outlined above.

This is borne out by the experiences of some of those interviewed in the research. Elizabeth Doughty, who now works as a copywriter, told the researchers: “I used to be a group account director at a large marketing agency, but after taking a career break I found that flexible vacancies at my level just didn’t exist. It was a hard choice to make, but I have opted out of having a senior level career. Flexibility is a deal-breaker for me.”

We have an equal balance of male and female employees at Xcite, and of our female employees, one is a Board Director, one is a copywriter, and one – Amy – works both flexibly and remotely from her home in Cornwall! We asked Amy how this works for her in practice.

“As a single mother it can be difficult to balance work with parenting for an 8 year old, school and running a house. Being able to work from home, fitting the hours in around my child works so well. I get the job done and never feel like my little one is missing out. I appreciate that many other firms need to adopt this way of working, but from personal experience, I have been allowed to progress with my career without being detrimental to being a Mum”

As a successful and progressive company this makes total sense to us and we are happy for our people to make their contribution on as flexible a basis as they need. We strongly believe that the failure to grasp the potential of flexible working flies in the face of the spirit of digital and social media marketing.

To be an effective digital and social marketer the only physical resources you need are an internet-enabled device and connection. The whole point of digital and social media is that you can access it and contribute to it any time, anywhere.

This is particularly significant in today’s global economy. It would be advantageous to many organisations to have marketing and social media running 24/7, a scenario that is perfectly feasible with flexible working. We look forward to seeing more of our sector grasping this opportunity and using it to their competitive advantage!