Advertising still has a way to go when it comes to being representative of the audiences we talk to, and at 11 London we’re keen to play an active part in promoting diversity and champion equality - in all forms.
Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, we like many other organisations realised that - when it came to racism, and especially systemic racism - if we weren’t part of the solution we were effectively perpetuating the problem. But we didn’t want to make empty, knee-jerk gestures. We wanted to make changes now and in the future that would help improve our sector and the lives of people working in it. We accepted that we weren’t perfect, but nor did we want to be finger-wagging or po-faced.
We started by looking at ourselves and implemented a staff survey on ED&I, asking the team their views on how well we’re doing and what we could do better. This is now an annual thing, with the Board taking the suggestions seriously and implementing change where necessary. We’ve changed the structure of our creative briefs and sourced image libraries that feature a wider range of people.
Last year, we started a series of monthly talks where each staff member presents on an aspect of ED&I from race, neurodiversity, gender, to family structures and geographical representation. The aim is to burst the white, London middle-class bubble and help us all think beyond the immediate and familiar.
We also became the first health agency in the UK to gain B Corp status, which is an independent verification of our commitment to equality, diversity and environmental performance beyond the purely commercial - something that took nearly 18 months to achieve.
Our twice-yearly poll of 2,000 people with think tank More in Common also now helps us and our clients understand better what marks people out as different in their values and beliefs. And, crucially, it shows what brings often unexpected groups together.
We also found a way of using social media to reach minority groups - despite the platforms’ algorithmic bias towards audiences that simply returned the highest numbers of responses.
This year we’ve launched a new consultancy product in 11 Consulting called ‘Embracing Ethnicity in Health’, which helps clients review how well they’re representing the people they serve and what they can do to make their communications more inclusive.
There will be other ideas we have and changes that we’ll make as we seek to make the areas of advertising, health and humanity a bit fairer - and, importantly, make our more relevant and interesting. If you’re up for finding out more about what we’re planning, or would like to work with us in some way, do please drop us a line.