Wednesday 06 July 2022

ACA statement: sexual harassment and bullying in the industry

Advertising Council Australia’s vision is to make advertising the most valued professional service industry in Australia. Our people, perspectives and professional advice are powerful accelerants in helping businesses and brands achieve their potential.

We recognise that over the past few years there has been considerable media coverage on the significant impact that sexual harassment, bullying and assault have on individuals, their friends, families and communities.

While this behaviour can occur in any industry, and many of our members have strong frameworks and processes in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff, ACA recognises the need to not only lead by example but support the industry to do better every day.

It is for this reason that ACA launched its landmark DE&I program, Create Space, in November 2021. More than 2,600 people in the industry responded to the inaugural census, providing the most robust and extensive data on demographics and experiences at work that the industry has ever had. This data has informed a strategic program to accelerate greater inclusion and diversity across our entire membership base as well as the wider industry.

On July 14, ACA will release the Create Space Report & Action Plan that will reveal the findings of the census as well as three immediate actions the industry can take to address key issues of inequality, exclusion and underrepresentation, including creating safer workplaces. More actions will be rolled out in coming months.

While the action plan is designed to support all marginalised groups, the first urgent call to action is to ensure that work is a safe space for female talent and those identifying as female, as a variety of everyday demeaning behaviours, or microaggressions, are undermining their long-term retention and progression into senior leadership.

Critically, the only thing that will prevent sexual harassment and bullying is an industry culture that simply does not tolerate it. To accelerate this shift in standards and behaviour, we need long-term, multifaceted strategies grounded in data and which engage agency leadership, middle management, clients and the broader advertising ecosystem.

Create Space is an evolving industry program designed to address representation, inclusion and belonging. With harassment and bullying high on the agenda, it also highlights issues around intersectionality, the gender pay gap, social mobility, sexual orientation, mental health, disability, neurodiversity and age. 

This will allow any organisation – from holding companies to small independents – to access data, benchmark their performance, and design effective DE&I programs.

It is also important to understand that Create Space will not sit by itself. The actions will form an integral role in ACA’s accreditation program that will set minimum standards across the industry.

We encourage everyone to join us on July 14 to hear the results of the Create Space Census and how you can focus your DE&I efforts to drive real change. Register for the online event .

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