• While Canadian respondents in the marketing industry acknowledge progress is being made to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, the survey exposes the need for improvement.
  • There is a significant pay gap for women and ethnic minorities, particularly at the junior/entry level.
  • Ethnic minorities and people with disabilities report a significantly poorer lived experience than their majority counterparts.

October 21, 2021: Canadian results from the first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Census of the global marketing industry have identified key challenges around ethnicity, disability, family status, age and gender.

Canada scores marginally better on the global Inclusion Index benchmark (67% vs 64%), with wide recognition from respondents that progress is being made. Eighty-one percent agree that their company is actively taking steps to be more diverse and inclusive, versus the global average of 60%. However, the survey did identify areas that require significant improvement.

For example, on Kantar’s Inclusion Index, which is generated by asking questions about people’s sense of belonging, the absence of discrimination and the presence of negative behaviour, men scored at 74% compared to women at only 64%.

How Kantar’s Inclusion Index is Generated

Kantar Inclusion index = [ company sense of belonging + absense of discrimination ] - presence of negative behaviour

The global results are based on more than 10,000 responses from 27 markets around the world conducted in June through July 2021. In addition to demographics, the online survey identifies respondents’ sense of belonging, experience of discrimination and demeaning behaviour. In Canada there were over 1,400 respondents from brands, agencies, publishers, media, tech, production, research and trade bodies/ industry associations.

The Canada report found strong evidence of pay gaps at almost every level of seniority for both gender and ethnicity, but markedly so at the junior levels. For ethnic minorities, the pay gap was 22% at the entry/junior level; for women at the same level it was twenty percent. Furthermore, the proportion of ethnic minorities that hold positions at senior levels is significantly low, coming in at a mere 22% of c-suite level executive positions, while 52% of entry/junior level positions are held by ethnic minorities.

Another striking opportunity for change in the marketing sector relates to people with disabilities. The lived experiences of that group is significantly poorer, with 17% of people with disabilities having faced discrimination on the basis of their disability. This cohort also reported feeling less of a sense of belonging than their counterparts without disabilities (51% compared to 76%).

The global 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 Canada, the ACA was joined by a multitude of like-minded partners to drive industry participation in the survey, including the Association of Creative Communications Agencies (A2C), Ad Standards, Canadian Media Directors Council (CMDC), the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB Canada), the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA), Multicultural Marketing Alliance Canada (MMAC), Pride Advertising & Marketing, and thinktv, and media partners Grenier aux nouvelles and strategy.

The most common forms of discrimination were reported on the basis of age and family status. Forty percent of respondents believe that age can be a hindrance at their company, and this increases amongst older age groups. There is a similar picture with family status with 45% of those who have dependent children indicating they believe that family status hinders one’s career at their company.

The full global findings will be shared with participating markets later this month, and the full global overview with detailed analysis will be published later this year.

The markets that participated in the census were Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Greece, the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE), Hong Kong SAR, China, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the USA.

The results will feed into the work of the WFA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force as well as national action plans led by WFA national associations around the world. In Canada, the ACA will use the data to guide initiatives of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

The Canada report is now available for download on the ACA’s website.


What Canadian leaders are saying about the report

“With the data captured from this survey we now have a better understanding of areas for improvement that can be addressed in the short term and a benchmark with which we can measure our progress over time. Marketing executives can use these insights to enhance diversity and inclusion; from improving their hiring practices to eliminating bias from end to end of their marketing communications supply chains.”

– Ron Lund, President & CEO, Association of Canadian Advertisers

“We are committed to making progress on DE&I within the marketing industry to better reflect our country and our consumers. Positive intent needs to become positive action. This survey will help us identify key opportunities and, more importantly, give us an ability to measure our progress.”

– Esther Benzie, Vice President, Marketing, People, Culture & Brand, CIBC and Chair of the ACA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

“Collective meaningful data is essential to evolve towards better inclusion, diversity and equity. Together, we will make a difference and the collaboration between all stakeholders in the international survey shows it. The A2C is already committed to a DEI policy and an action plan to continue the work that has started to support the industry.”

– Dominique Villeneuve, President and CEO, A2C

“Canada might have higher scores than global averages but there is serious work to be done for DEI improvement. This census gives us a solid baseline of the crucial areas that need to be tackled; improving upon pay inequities, ageism, potential churn and creating a stronger sense of belonging. Our industry can only benefit and be stronger with a collective commitment to DEI.”

– Jani Yates, President & CEO, Ad Standards

“As the only organization representing multicultural agencies and media organizations in the industry, it was heartening to participate in this proof of concept initiative, which gave our membership an opportunity to lend their voice and become part of a global initiative. While the break-up of data on the responses between organizations in the ‘mainstream’ advertising and marketing business and those working in the specialized ‘multicultural and DE&I’ space were not available, we were encouraged to observe alignment in most of the criteria. Making the Canadian market a more inclusive place is the raison d’etre of the agencies in the membership of MMAC and these responses indicate that we are certainly getting there.”

– Ishan Ghosh, Secretary, Multicultural Marketing Alliance Canada

“This is important work, and we were happy to collaborate with the ACA and other associations equally passionate about this topic. Canada appears to be heading in the right direction with 81% of respondents believing that their company is actively taking steps to be more diverse and inclusive, while understanding that there’s still more work to do. We look forward to seeing concrete changes in our industry here in Canada and around the world, and will continue to do our part in working hard to affect change in the digital advertising sector.”

– Sonia Carreno, President, IAB Canada