Sexual harassment drops, but discrimination rises: The Agency Circle results

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 8 December 2017

Sexual harassment has decreased in Australia's creative agencies, according to the second annual diversity survey from The Agency Circle

The industry body, which launched in 2016 in response to increasing frustrations around diversity, or the lack of it, in creative agencies, says results show the industry is delivering better gender equality and agencies are being perceived as less sexist.

Almost all the metrics improved, but Clemenger Sydney MD Emily Perrett admits there is still more work to be done, with workplace discrimination increasing.

This year 11 new creative agencies joined, as well as 18 media agencies.

This is real progress, which is great to see,” Perrett says.

The results show that the focus of senior agency staff, coupled with the freedom for each agency to address the key issues in a way that suits them, works. All the numbers are moving in the right direction.”

Of the 1144 respondents, 77% were Caucasian, 9% Asian, 5% Multi Racial, 1% Middle Eastern, only eight are African American and one Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander completed the survey.

More women responded to the survey with the split 58% female, 41% male and 1% identifying as other.

Half  of the respondents were under 30, 33% were in their 30s and less than 17% were over 30.

Significant shifts:

  • The number of people who reported experiencing sexual harassment has dropped significantly (down by 18%). NB: the question in 2017 survey refers to current employer only.

  • Less people have observed sexual harassment of others at their current agency (down 17%).

  • Agencies are perceived to be less sexist, less racist and more inclusive of LGBTQI than previously (up 10%+)

Smaller shifts in the right direction:

  • Harassment still takes the form of unwelcome comments or jokes but we are improving (down 6%)

  • As an industry, we feel like we are performing marginally better on gender equality (up 11%)

  • Most people feel included in decision making and not excluded due to discrimination (up 12%)

  • Agency cultures are deemed increasingly supportive of women who take parental leave (up 21%)

Areas to focus on: 

  • Reported workplace discrimination, in terms of not receiving desired assignments or promotions at their current agency has increased (up 11%).

  • People don’t intervene when they see discriminatory acts (up by 9%)

Industry aggregate scores are released, however the agencies that took part for the second year now have the ability to monitor their progress against their own benchmark as well as the industry average.

The Media Agency results will be made public in the coming weeks.

Read the results of the first survey here

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