The South African Marketing Industry Alliance has revealed the results of the WFA’s first Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Census.
In terms of South Africa, the census found the career ladder differs … and shows exactly where the transformation challenges and opportunities lie.
The research effort was led by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in close collaboration with agencies associations, EACA and VoxComm, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week, Effies, GWI, Campaign, IAA and research firm, Kantar.
In South Africa, an alliance comprising MASA, the local WFA affiliate and sister industry bodies the ACA, ARB, IAB, MRF and Kantar South Africa spearheaded the project to ensure wide reach across the corporate, agency, SMME and freelance marketing arena. The results are based on more than 10 000 responses from 27 markets around the world, including South Africa, conducted in June and July 2021
“The results are very comprehensive and as such it’s a lot to take in. We hope businesses take the time to absorb the findings and reflect on the aspects of their own culture where they need to clarify their standing and shake things up,” says Ivan Moroke, CEO South Africa, Insights Division, Kantar. “It’s not about painting over the past. Rather, it’s about accurately reading the (board)room and understanding where to make the necessary step-changes needed to progress the South African marketing industry towards a more inclusive future.”
The survey identified key challenges around family status, age, and gender as well as ethnicity and disability.
There are clear gaps in lived experience when these groups were compared to the industry average, both in individual markets and globally. For example, men scored 69% compared to women at 61% on Kantar’s Inclusion Index, which is generated by asking questions about people’s sense of belonging, the absence of discrimination and presence of negative behaviour. Unconscious bias is clearly more evident in the workplace than we think.
Despite these serious concerns, the marketing sector still outperformed every other category analysed by research partner Kantar, scoring an overall 64% on the Inclusion Index, ahead of the next highest-performing sector of health and pharmaceuticals on 60%. As a global-first census, the industry now has a starting point for brands to start actively walking the talk rather than blindly trying to solve the problem of being all talk, no action.
The most common forms of discrimination globally identified by the survey were family status and age, with 27% stating that their company does not treat all employees fairly, regardless of family status and 27% stating that their company does not treat all employees equally regardless of age. Thirty-six percent of respondents agreed that age can hinder one’s career while 40% of women agreed that family status can hinder one’s career.
Globally, ethnic minorities also score lower on key questions such as “feel like I belong at my company” in nearly all markets. In the US, 17% say they have faced discrimination based on their racial background.
SA records highest level of discrimination
South Africa recorded the highest level of discrimination due to ethnicity (19%) across all markets surveyed, so a sense of oppression still exists decades later, with non-white respondents also reporting greater perceived career obstacles. In many markets this is reflected by a gender pay gap. In the US and Canada, for example, the gap is worst among industry starters with a 13% gap in the US and a 20% gap in Canada, despite some ethnic minorities or foreign nationals reporting being paid more than the ethnic majority.
Encouragingly, the reported average salary of South African men is only higher than that of women at the executive management/C-suite level, notwithstanding the fact that women now make up the bulk of all positions, extending across top, middle and junior management all the way through to intern/trainee level.
That said, the career ladder looks different for those with family responsibilities other than dependent children, as 38% of women respondents believe that family status can hinder one’s career compared to 27% of men. In the South African context, family dynamics, coupled with religious, socio-cultural, economic, and political differences – compared to global benchmarks – may well be affecting this perception. In addition, as many as 50% of 18- to 24-year-old South African respondents think age hinders one’s chances of career progression.
The non-white average salary is finally on par with salaries, at a senior level with 55% of respondents in executive manager and C-suite positions non-white. Unfortunately, black South Africans are still vastly underrepresented in marketing overall, at just 37% compared to the national average of 90%.
In an industry struggling to find the right talent, the lack of diversity and inclusion is a serious concern with 17% saying they were likely to leave their current company because of the lack of inclusion and/or discrimination they experienced. Fifteen percent said they would leave the industry overall.
Other key findings include:
- The lived experiences of people with disabilities are poorer in some but not all markets. Globally, 8% of disabled respondents say they have faced discrimination based on disability and they also tend to score lower against “feel like I belong at my company” than non-disabled respondents. No disabled respondents reported experiencing discrimination on the grounds of disability in the GCC countries, Malaysia, Pakistan, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey.
- Mental health issues are still taboo for many. Around 7% of respondents globally reported a long-term health condition and of these, 71% said they related to mental health. However, just 44% of them had made their employers aware of the issue. The good news is that among those who did, 59% agreed their employer was “generally supportive”. The best performing country on this metric was Ireland, where 76% agreed.
- Sense of belonging varies widely. The global average for “company sense of belonging” is 68% but this hides a wide range of performance, with Sweden top scoring on 76% and the bottom market achieving just 53%. Again, there is variation between different groups. In the US, the score averages 66%, peaking at 71% among white respondents compared to 59% among ethnic minorities.
- Most reported that their organisations are taking active steps to address diversity and inclusion, but this sentiment varies greatly from country to country. Most respondents feel their company is working hard to become more diverse and inclusive, with 60% of global respondents agreeing. The US topped the chart at 83%, although there was a 14-percentage point difference between white respondents and those from ethnic minorities. In some countries the sentiment figure is significantly lower. In one market, only 26% of respondents believed their organisation was taking active steps to address diversity and inclusion.
- There are substantially large variations between markets in general. When looking across all scores, Belgium scored highest of the 27 markets surveyed in Kantar’s Inclusion Index at 74%. But one of the starkest learnings from the survey is the extent to which some countries reported figures significantly below the global averages when it comes to the absence of discrimination and presence of negative behaviours. This is particularly noticeable when it comes to reviewing the responses from women in these same markets. These differences also corroborate systemic issues in some countries where there have been longstanding societal problems around gender, race and/or ethnicity.
The final global report was released on 10December 2021 to coincide with World Human Rights Day and can be accessed on //wfanet.org/leadership/census/about. The South Africa specific results are included with this release.