Culture of intentional inclusivity needs to be fostered in marketing


Marketers are talking and thinking about diversity and inclusion (D&I) far more these days. Last Thursday the Marketing Society hosted the first of its autumn webinars on the subject. Four panellists – UBS economist Paul O’Donovan, Twitter’s Olivia McEvoy, Stha Banks of Core and David Adamson from WPP’s The&Partnership – were asked to debate diversity and inclusion as “the single most important criteria for economic success over the next 20 years?”

In June, the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI) rolled out its policy guidelines on diversity and inclusion. In its pitch urging member agencies to sign up to this “must attend” online event, the institute stressed it believes that a talent pool with a broad and diverse range of resources, skills, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds better reflects today’s Ireland.

Aside from helping to lay a foundation for change in Irish society, greater diversity and inclusion spells growth potential for advertisers.


IAPI president Shenda Loughnane, who is group managing director at Dentsu, said the purpose of the institute’s diversity and inclusion policy is to ensure that advertising reflects every section of Irish society, and that all employees, job applicants, clients and suppliers are respected, valued and given equal and fair opportunity to perform to their best.

Procter & Gamble implemented diversity programmes requiring agencies and suppliers to adopt measurable D&I strategies.

RTÉ launched its D&I charter in 2018 in a bid to involve more people from ethnic minorities in presenting TV programmes. Emer O’Neill was recruited as múinteoir for its Home School Hub series. O’Neill later spoke openly to Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Show about lessons she learned around racism in an interview on the Late Late Show. She told viewers about how people wrote slurs on walls near where she lived in Bray, Co Wicklow.

RTÉ also hired Zainab Boladale for its Nationwide programme and supported the Black and Irish podcast. Virgin Media Television’s D&I initiatives include Gogglebox Ireland and Eating With the Enemy.

Andrew Campbell-Edie from the Waterford-based Irish Centre for Diversity said that diverse casting is on the increase in marketing communications. Aldi currently has a TV ad where a gay couple express the joy of “going up the aisle” together.

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