Building an Open and Inclusive Industry | DMA

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Building an Open and Inclusive Industry


At the DMA, we have always felt strongly that we need to create change rather than just talk about it. We believe that actions are more impactful than words – particularly with regards to diversity and inclusion. But last year, events and conversations across the industry have prompted us to reflect on that and recognise the importance of talking openly about both the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement as well as how we are working to promote greater inclusion across our industry and beyond.

Our ethos as an organisation is about putting the customer front and centre. Increasingly, we are focused on data as a force for good, ethical use of data, removing AI bias and how responsible use of data is a key in creating fairer, more inclusive products and services. Yet to be truly effective, it is critical that the DMA and the data and marketing industry is representative of the diverse audiences that it is speaking to.

As an industry body, we have the influence to engineer change, yet to be truly credible, we need to practice what we preach. We have always wanted to create a workplace and community that is fair and welcoming to all. We recruit the best talent and offer equal opportunities. And our people reflect that. We currently have 83 members of staff. Nearly a quarter of our staff are ethnic minority (22%) and over half are female (58%). This is reflected in our leadership team, where we have 25% ethnic minority representation and 44% female. Our Board of Directors comprises 18% ethnic minority and 36% female.

We have worked with Creative Equals for three years now with a specific objective around getting gender parity across all our DMA Awards juries. For the past two years, we have worked with Culture Heroes, who set us a target of 15% ethnic minority representation on the juries (which we achieved) and most recently we partnered with Outvertising to increase the number of LGBTQ+ judges. That work continues into 2021 to help us achieve our mission to be the most inclusive awards programme.

Through our work with Culture Heroes, we have learnt the importance of role models. To inspire future leaders, we want to ensure that this proportionate representation goes beyond our juries and is applied across all our leadership and community groups, including our course tutors, events speakers and councils and committees. We also plan to build on our neurodiversity initiative to create more guidance and training to support neurodiverse individuals and ensure they feel welcome and are encouraged to take up roles where their specialised skills will be valued.

Inclusion is needed from the classroom to boardroom. The surest way to bring about change is to attract a wide and diverse pool of young people to work in our industry. DMA Talent is already working with organisations such as Commercial Break, and we want to uncover other partnerships and initiatives that could make a difference.

We have recently supported Culture Heroes with a research project exploring the best ways to support ethnic minority employees’ growth. This highlighted the importance of training and mentoring programmes. We are continuing to assist Culture Heroes on the next phase of that research as well as provide some immediate support, such as ensuring half of the places on all our IDM leadership training sessions are offered free of charge to the Culture Heroes network.

We have also backed the Creative Equals open letter to the industry, which commits to building our knowledge, showing greater empathy and taking more action. You can read more about it here.

In this area we know we can do much more. We want to create forums for open conversations and more initiatives that drive change. If you would like to get involved or share your thoughts, please contact:

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