This annual conference has gone
from strength to strength, and last year we achieved record levels of positive
feedback. At the close of each year’s event we take a few days to recuperate
before taking a deep breath and starting all over again.
Those of you who have been
here before, have seen me stand up, look at the hundreds of people present and
challenge the sector on whether we are truly doing enough to be inclusive in
finding promoting and retaining our talent.
Last year, in our 70th
birthday, we talked about our role in giving people a voice to power, and the
fact that if we truly deliver on this we can create revolutionary change from
Almost every politician,
journalist, and business leader - in response to the seismic jolts that have been delivered
by among other things Brexit and the recent American elections - has bewailed
the failure to properly listen.
This should be our cue to
step up. But we look less credible if our talent fails to reflect and recognise
the society we live in.
As a sector, we don’t tend
to be rich in hard assets; factories, transport fleets, we don’t produce
millions of SKUs to sit on supermarket shelves. But we do produce the
intellectual capital which has the power to change lives, and we are a world
leader at doing that. We depend on two key soft assets, the trust we build with
our participants, clients and stakeholders, and the talent of the people we
In the past few months I
have been ably assisted by a wide cross-section of volunteers (when I say
volunteers, many of them failed to run away fast enough) to start examining
what MRS should be doing to support and promote inclusivity.
Clearly to do this we need
to start with the evidence.
So that’s where we started
with the membership survey kindly done for us by Lightspeed GMI.
We use the term evidence
matters so this is a good place to start in deciding what needs to be done.
This is the first time we
have had a chance to look at all the factors that get in the way of talent
achieving its potential; gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation. We were also
able to compare agency and client side perceptions.
We are still working
through the data, but here’s a sneak peek at some of the emerging findings.
Our participants generally
perceived the sector as being better for the promotion of inclusion than other
In this survey
representation of women at senior levels was reports as 49% in agencies and 45% clientside. Before we cheer too much remember that female participation in
this sector is 60%.
There is a significant
perceived paygap between men and women at senior levels. We are still probing
these numbers but, although this may reduce the differential, we are still
expecting our report card to say 'not good enough'. Incidentally, agency side
senior managers I talked to were surprised by this finding; client side senior
managers were not.
Women are still reporting
discrimination arising from taking maternity leave, funnily enough no such
stigma seems to be attached to paternity leave amongst our participants.
Non-white British people
are perceived as 30% less likely than average to reach senior levels, although
this is slightly better client side.
But about a quarter of our BAME
participants report experiencing racial discrimination – in this case the
problem appears to be worse client side than supply side at 14%. Both sides
however are equal in their belief that their ethnicity has hampered their
We have just launched a
new programme for young talent in the industry called &more.
In 2017, we
will launch a campaign to support the sector in improving these statistics.
should just call it 'More'.
Believe me, this is not
just a matter of natural justice, nor is it merely a matter of ensuring our
sector accesses and retains the best talent. Government regulations are going
to come into play that will make it a necessity for doing business.
For the last three years we
have had the privilege of having as our president one of the most formidable
and high achieving women it has been my pleasure to know.
As she steps down from her
term as President of MRS it is both a sadness and great pleasure to welcome
Dame Dianne Thompson to the MRS stage for the last time.
Read the announcement: Jan Gooding announced as new President of MRS