NABS reveals the stories behind the stats to drive forwards meaningful action on D,E&I in adland - NABS
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NABS reveals the stories behind the stats to drive forwards meaningful action on D,E&I in adland

  • Diversity in Focus research launched at NABS’ event Leading Wellbeing for All 
  • NABS to launch two-pronged strategy to deepen authentic inclusion across the industry 
  • NABS’ 2021 stats also released at the event, showing immense strain on NABS’ services; demand surges by 23% despite £1.75m loss in income during the pandemic 

Diversity in Focus research

Marginalised individuals from across the advertising industry have shared their stories in a new piece of research undertaken by NABS and 2CV titled Diversity in Focus.   

The research aims to gain an in-depth understanding from marginalised individuals on what they need to feel a greater sense of wellbeing, belonging and inclusion, working in advertising and media. 

NABS teamed up with partners Brixton Finishing School & the ADcademy, Media For All (MEFA) and Outvertising to ensure a broad range of respondents were surveyed. 

The findings bring together 70 hours of diaries and face to face conversations about wellbeing, hopes and fears and the need for industry change with LGBTQ+, Black, Asian and other ethnic minoritised individuals working in advertising and media alongside students from the Brixton Finishing School and the ADcademy entering the industry.  

Key learnings

  •  Employers have to understand who the individual is in order to support them with the right structures and behaviours. Managers need to tailor their style to each employee, using empathy to build the trust that’s essential to a supportive relationship.
  • While work has been done to create a more inviting industry, we need to build on this with continued effort. The survey respondents entering the industry feel as though it’s about who you know, not what you know, with a homogenous feel to most of those working within advertising. 
  • Belonging and inclusion depend on reciprocal actions. Employees who put themselves out there to contribute professionally expect something back in return from their employer and the industry. It’s our collective responsibility to ensure that we return their courage and professionalism with active policies and support.
  • We need clearer progression plans and opportunities to remove discrimination and counter unconscious bias – something that was keenly felt by our participants.  
  • Minoritised individuals want and need central sources of industry support and unity.
  • Those starting their careers are particularly vulnerable to poor wellbeing. Without industry knowledge and experience, as well as role models and networks, they are more susceptible to ‘masking’, covering who they are, which gradually erodes confidence and mental health and blocks any sense of belonging. 

Respondents also revealed some encouraging efforts in the industry towards inclusion, such as the hiring of diversity strategists, the use of blind CVs in recruitment and normalising time to support mental health, including attending therapy sessions (which adlanders can access for free via NABS).  

Our research tells us that even though we are more aware of the issues surrounding D,E&I, and some efforts are being made to create a more inclusive industry, we have much more to do to change our structures and behaviours. Too many people still don’t feel as though they belong in our industry. We must take meaningful action to change that.

Diana Tickell, CEO, NABS

NABS will now focus on a two-pronged solution to drive positive change across the industry

We will launch supportive services aimed at marginalised individuals, as well as helping managers across the industry to lead with the empathy needed to create more inclusive teams.

Diana Tickell, CEO, NABS

The research was unveiled at NABS: Leading Wellbeing for All, the charity’s annual event for senior stakeholders and supporters.  

2021 Headlines

NABS also discussed its key 2021 stats at the event, giving key insights into the state of wellbeing in the industry. Headlines were:   

  • The number one reason for calling NABS in 2021 is for emotional support, with 55% of these calls relating primarily to mental health. 
  • NABS had 14,500 individual interactions with industry employees, supporting their wellbeing through its services, support content and community and fundraising events. 
  • 50% of NABS’ expert Advice Line support is now accessed online, through new products developed in response to industry needs throughout the pandemic – increasing accessibility for all.

Since the start of the pandemic, NABS has experienced a £1.75million (30%) drop in income, while experiencing a 23% surge in demand for its services.  

The long-lasting impact of the pandemic, combined with the terrible events in the news, are having a stark impact on our industry’s mental health. With demand for our services and our loss of income at the current level, we can only continue to survive with the industry’s support. We are so grateful to our supporters for their generosity and we hope that new partners will come on board this year to help NABS continue its mission.

Simon Daglish, chairman, NABS and deputy managing director, commercial, ITV
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