Future of Work

Brixton Finishing School, the digital creative and digital accelerator programme, has revealed that that the majority of young people trying to start a career in the advertising industry feel that more needs to be done to address a lack of diversity in the sector.

This news comes amidst the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, with hundreds of black advertising professionals signing an open letter demanding urgent action from agency leadership to tackle racism.

A survey of 65 people (the majority of whom are under 22 years-old) either currently studying at Brixton Finishing School, or about to begin a career showed that nearly all respondents said the industry was not doing enough about inclusion, 71% said they believe the main barrier to pursuing a career in the advertising industry is ‘not knowing the right people’, pointing to the fact that the adage ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ persists.

The study shows racial diversity is also still an area that prevents people from feeling they can get into media and advertising. Nearly a third (31%) felt that their race was the biggest barrier to entering the industry.

Those from financially disadvantaged backgrounds also face difficulties: 46% cited not being able to work for free, indicating that unpaid internships still prevent many people from different backgrounds entering the advertising industry.

Respondents feel that the advertising sector is not representative of the people they advertise to, with 60% either tending to agree or strongly agreeing that people in the creative, media and advertising industries are very different from wider society. More should be done to attract a more diverse workforce according to 95% of respondents, and nearly half (47%) either strongly agree or tend to agree that the sector doesn’t seem interested in diversity.

Ally Owen, Brixton Finishing School’s Founder said: “It’s clear that there is still a long way to go before the industry is truly representative and welcoming to people of all backgrounds. While some of the stats are disheartening, we will keep striving to reach more young people from diverse backgrounds, and to get incredible talent into advertising – regardless of academic qualifications or traditional markers of success. Brixton Finishing School reaches out to under-served groups (multicultural, working class, neurodiverse, female) in the creative/marketing industries to find those with untapped potential, and we truly believe that this approach has the power to transform the sector for the better.”

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