Arlo Parks DM's | Amplify Brand Experience Agency

Amplify: 100% BAME recruits at entry level

School Reports 2020: Who made the diversity grade?

To read the full article, head to Campaign, originally published 16th April 2020.

The message that a diverse workforce is desirable, creatively effective and fit for the future appears to be hitting home in at least some parts of adland.

To find out what agencies are doing to change the composition of their employees at a junior level, for the first time, Campaign asked its School Report agencies to state the percentage of their 2019 entry-level intake who are from a BAME background. The findings from this exercise were mixed. On the one hand, it’s clear that some agencies have started to put plans in place and are tapping into initiatives aimed at turning the dial.

Amplify and BBD Perfect Storm top the table. The entry-level BAME recruitment records for both these agencies stand at 100% of their total intake. While each shop took on only two people at this level, both deliberately sought to make a difference with the appointments.

Amplify’s recruits came via its nascent initiative "Project New Wave". Launched last year, it gives young individuals from less-traditional backgrounds an opportunity to explore the various disciplines within a creative agency by providing them with a one-year, fixed-term contract. It has been a success, with the agency saying that both of the individuals it took on are "nailing it". 

Amplify’s recruits came via its nascent initiative "Project New Wave". Launched last year, it gives young individuals from less-traditional backgrounds an opportunity to explore the various disciplines within a creative agency by providing them with a one-year, fixed-term contract.

It has been a success, with the agency saying that both of the individuals it took on are "nailing it". 

Likewise, the recruits at BBD Perfect Storm came to the agency via an apprenticeship scheme for young people from low-access social groups that is focused on BAME youth.

Overall, the majority of agencies answered Campaign’s question about their diversity figures. However, a significant minority – 32 agencies – failed to. Some claimed they do not collect this data; others declined to explain the absence. To a lesser extent, this pattern was repeated for other questions about BAME diversity both at senior management level and across the entire workforce.

Ali Hanan, chief executive and founder of Creative Equals, which has a new programme, Accelerate, aimed at creating more multicultural leaders in the sector, is scathing about agencies’ failure to report.

"Agencies, the fact is we can’t manage what we don’t measure. Data is everything," she says. "The real questions we have to ask are: why aren’t agencies collecting the data? Or willing to share it? What are they afraid of? Is it because they know their numbers are just embarrassingly low?"

Hanan’s colleague, Creative Equal’s partnerships director Stephanie Matthews, reasons that as the requirement for ethnicity pay-gap reporting is on the horizon, the sector should get on the front foot with the issue. Matthews adds: "And whilst you’re there, get your entire staff data profile, [it’s about] more than just gender and ethnicity." 

The numbers


44.1%

Senior management, female

There was little change from last year’s 43.5% average, and, out of 102 agencies, 51 were under this year’s average. While the figures indicate that the IPA will hit its 40% target for 2020, the focus is sharpening by looking at the gender split of key roles such as chief executive and chief creative officer.

10.9%

Senior management, BAME

This slipped back marginally from its 11% average last year. While the data sets are not directly comparable, this suggests that the IPA could be on track to miss its 15% target, due out next year. Of the agencies that reported their figures, 33 have all-white senior leadership teams. This will come as little surprise to many, especially the small number of BAME agency leaders. 

51.4%

Permanent staff, female

There is an evenly split workforce but there is more to be done to make sure women progress up the ranks, as the senior management figures lag the overall average.

15.8%

Permanent staff, BAME

Given that most of the School Reports cohort is based in London, which has an ethnic make-up of about 40% BAME, this figure is markedly out of step with the capital’s population. Only one agency hit the 40% mark.

28.6%

Entry-level recruits, BAME

This indicates that some agencies have turned their attention to increasing BAME diversity at entry level, as it is outpacing the permanent staff figure. Recruitment is just the start, however; the challenge is to ensure the industry is one in which these recruits can prosper. Reporting here needs to improve, with 31% of agencies not submitting figures.

BAME recruits at entry level: top agencies


Amplify 100%BBD Perfect Storm 100%Grey London 70%St Luke’s 60%Wieden & Kennedy London 57%Adam & Eve/DDB 53%Atomic London 50%MBA 50%Mr President 50%Cheil London 44%