Reframing business key to promote diversity

PETALING JAYA: Lacking in the sense of belonging to a company and lower pay roles for women are among the challenges facing the global advertising and marketing industry, which is also a reflection of the situation in Malaysia.

Based on the first ever online diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) survey by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), it revealed that the sense of a company belonging varies widely. The global average for “company sense of belonging” was 68%, higher than the score of 59% for Malaysia.

A total of 315 advertising and marketing practitioners in Malaysia responded to the survey.

Malaysia scored 60% which is below the Global Inclusion Index benchmark of 64%.

Conducted across 27 markets around the world including Malaysia, it took place between June to July 2021. The online survey identified not just the demographics of participants but also their sense of belonging, experience of discrimination and demeaning behaviour.

The research of the survey was led by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) in close collaboration with agency associations, among others, such as the European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA) and Voxcomm, Advertising Week, Effie Worldwide, International Advertising Association (IAA) and research firm Kantar.

A key finding of the survey showed that women are dominant at the total level, but make up a higher proportion of lower-paying roles, making up 70% of the most junior roles and 45% of the most senior roles. Men reported a higher average pay across most levels of seniority.

Commenting on the survey, Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA) president Mohamed Kadri Mohamed Taib said: “This is a first-time effort conducted globally and in Malaysia has highlighted negative behaviours and discrimination within the industry which cannot be swept under the carpet.

“This report provides a yardstick for the brands to identify and gather information for the areas that need progress by reframing their business strategies to co-exist with diversity and inclusion dimensions.

“The WFA is expected to repeat the census in 18 months to measure the progress.” MAA is a member of the WFA.

In terms of discrimination for the disable, the survey highlighted that no respondents with disabilities have experienced discrimination based on who they are.

“However, only 47% of respondents with disabilities feel like they belong at their company, compared to 57% of their counterparts without disabilities,” it noted.

Thirty four percent of the respondents do not believe that their company treats all employees equally regardless of age and 53% of the respondents feel their company is working hard to become more diverse and inclusive.

Meanwhile, MAA vice-president Claudian Navin Stanislaus told StarBiz that together with the WFA, the association would use these findings as the benchmark for an annual census, as it strives to continuously move the needle on DEI locally.

He also noted that MAA was also part of the first global research project conducted by WFA on sustainability and marketing this year, and issues that were identified as becoming more prevalent in the next five years.

Navin also elaborated on some of the measures and initiatives which MAA is working on.

“As we strive towards promoting best practices, the MAA has been working with the WFA in developing media contract guidelines for Malaysia to ensure full transparency and fair remuneration while protecting the advertisers’ best interest,” he added.

He said in the pursuit of better measurement, the MAA continues to be part of joint industry committees working on a common currency for television/video audience and for single digital out of home measurement respectively.

As a leading proponent of self-regulation of the industry in Malaysia, he said MAA continues to collaborate with the Advertising Standards Authority Malaysia (ASA) and the Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF), and is working on a rebranding exercise for ASA, among others.

He said MAA has been actively involved in the revamp of the Content Code 2.0 and is at the public consultation stage. He said this would enable a more conducive environment for brands to thrive, while protecting consumers’ interests at all cost.

Navin said the association continues to support the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and to engage the Ministry of Health on the issue of advertising of high fat sugar and salt products to children.

He added as things return to some semblance of normalcy in the coming months, MAA is looking into other initiatives. These include addressing issues like programmatic buying and enhancement of greater transparency, among others, in the local marketing and advertising arena, he noted.

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