Campaign has given full credit to our President Robin Wight for his “indefatigable, Teflon-coated determination” to get clients and agencies behind his Ideas Foundation which encourages greater diversity in the creative industry. Here Robin joins three other industry heads to answer the question:

Does adland need diversity quotas?

It’s no secret that adland is predominantly white, middle-class and male. There’s also widespread agreement that this should change – not just on moral grounds, but because a more diverse workforce would benefit the industry commercially.

Many great initiatives already exist within it. Just last week, George Osborne received advertising luminaries and young people who have benefited from The Ideas Foundation, the charity set up by the Engine president, Robin Wight, that gives people from different backgrounds a leg-up into the industry. But for many, change is not coming quick enough.

At the Advertising Association’s recent Lead conference, the subject of diversity came up repeatedly. Sir Peter Bazalgette, the chair of Arts Council England, said: “Diversity in creative industries does not reflect the whole country. We don’t bring in people from the whole community. That’s wrong on a fairness basis but it doesn’t make commercial sense.” The MP Stella Creasy also criticised the industry for not moving fast enough. The only way for it to do so, she said, is to introduce diversity quotas. But are they really the answer?


Robin Wight, president, Engine; founder, The Ideas Foundation

“If every agency and brand supported The Ideas Foundation, there would be no need to even debate the issue of ‘diversity quotas’. In any event, diversity quotas are to misunderstand the problem. The problem is that 14- to 16-year-olds from ethnic minorities are not even considering our industry: sport, music, medicine, law, finance, even crime. But not advertising. And if they do, there is no pathway for them. The Ideas Foundation is that pathway: brands sponsor a brief that is taught in schools and mentored by agencies. Our concept is brilliant and unique but we’re not big enough. Quotas are too late and wrong in principle.”

The full article is published in Campaign.