That bold and parfit knight Tom Knox, the IPA’s new president, has enlarged on his ‘here for good’ agenda, saying that the IPA (the UK ad agency trade body) is setting a target of 40per cent of senior roles to be held by women with 15 per cent from BAME backgrounds (black, asian and minority ethnic it seems). The current figures are 30 per cent and 7.9 per cent.
The IPA has also been granted ‘chartered’ status by the Privy Council. Meaning that its members are part of a proper profession at last. Knox, a founder of DLKW (now Mullen Lowe in the UK) says: “Chartered bodies are expected to put the public interest first, on the basis that public confidence in the profession as a whole and its regulator are in the best long-term interests of the profession itself.” At least it hasn’t become the Worshipful Company of Admen.
One mustn’t mock of course: Knox is no doubt right to align advertising with forces for good in society although one has to bear in mind that advertising is an activity carried out with other people’s money, people who may not give a damn whether it does any good in society or not. Much as barristers, members of a rather older profession, are happy to represent villains of all hues so long as they pay.
As for diversity – moving adland away from a mostly white, middle class and male ethos – it might be a good idea to examine more closely why this is so. One reason is the way entry to the business is structured, a tiny intake of graduates who mostly come from posh universities, and, two, the industry’s habit of wielding the axe when accounts move. This makes it much harder for women to produce families and then come back. The job may no longer exist.