What does D&I in 2021 look like for Adland?

VCCP's D&I Collective share their thoughts

2020 became a wake-up call for the world after the murder of George Floyd and countless other Black Americans. Adland realised more than ever the importance and impact of advertising on society. We saw industry leaders commit to change and brands like Sainsbury’s put out ads challenging the lack of racial diversity and representation on our screens. As we celebrate some of the progress we made in 2020, VCCP’s D&I Collective want to look forward and highlight some areas of D&I we think it’s time to shine a light on in 2021:

cCharlotte Birks - Associate Director, PR

Our D&I Collective have been champions of change in 2020 and, alongside many other initiatives, we’ve invited brilliant speakers to help educate and challenge the partnership’s thinking in all areas of D&I. The topic that stuck with me most was a talk from Sadia Siddiqui on the importance of language and I hope that 2021 is the year we are more vigilant in rooting out problematic words and phrases.

Sadia’s IG account @_LanguageMatters is a great place to begin to appreciate the huge impact words can have, especially when it comes to equality and representation, and understand simple ways to make the language we use more inclusive.

sSonia Gilchrist - Head of D&I + Business Director

2020 was a year of many things, most of which we’d all like to forget. But one positive outcome was seeing more people talking passionately about D&I and fighting for real change. I personally felt energised by this shift in our industry. But, there was also a tangible increase in nervousness from many - concern about the tone of creative work, getting casting ‘right’, saying the wrong thing.

From the conversations I’ve had with people across the industry, this has turned into a default reliance on small groups of individuals within organisations (often marginalised groups) to be a voice for all aspects of D&I. In 2021, I want to see all individuals taking the steps to educate themselves - ask for training, read more books, attend more talks - rather than solely relying on others to solve their issues or alleviate their concerns. It’s time for everyone to be accountable. 

jJordan Hulse - New Business Executive

As challenging as 2020 was, it also showed us the power of representation, as we started to see a rise in brands and consumers standing together for the rights of equality. I’d like to believe that 2021 will be the year of brands being brave enough to accurately represent people in the media. The year that no one feels uncomfortable in their own skin, in their place of work or when watching the TV, because they’re no longer a minority in a situation.

2021 must be the year the industry continues to push the boundaries further than race and check themselves in all areas of inequality; we need to widen the lens and ensure everyone is seen and represented.

xXi Chen - Account Director  

Diversity by its own definition can’t just be one thing - it’s not just about gender and race. It’s important we continue the momentum of 2020 into 2021, but other aspects of diversity need the same recognition too. It’s easy to just focus on what we see on the outside, but we need to look at how we can be more diverse and inclusive of differentiators that aren’t so obvious - socioeconomic circumstances, gender-identity, cognitive disabilities.

Improving one aspect of diversity shouldn’t need to take away from another - they’re all important and in 2021 it’s time for us to widen the focus.

lLesley Ohene - Senior Account Executive

The conversation around D&I within advertising has always been present, but in 2020 it was amplified across the globe - highlighting the racial inequality and the need for diverse representation. For many individuals from diverse backgrounds, this conversation brought internal liberation and the sense of being seen within the workplace; however, that feeling can be overshadowed by the very real lack of ‘people like me’ working in and progressing within the industry.

In 2021, the conversation must continue, with more voices brought to the table to challenge conformity, and a shift from filling quotas to valuing all types of people for their different expertise.

lLynsey Monroe - Learning & Development 

2020 was the year that the world opened its eyes and started to listen. This was the year we committed to change. We signed a pledge, we set ourselves targets, we started to educate ourselves. But by the end of the year, it felt like we had still only scratched the surface.
In 2021, I hope we keep up the momentum, the events of 2020 can’t become a moment in time. We need to continue to focus on driving tangible change as a whole industry and holding ourselves accountable to those targets we set ourselves. Creating inclusive work that is representative of the population, and inclusive workplaces where everyone can flourish.


Enjoy this? Get more.

Our monthly newsletter, The Edit, curates the very best of our latest content including articles, podcasts, video.

1 + 3 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Become a member

Not a member yet?

Now it's time for you and your team to get involved. Get access to world-class events, exclusive publications, professional development, partner discounts and the chance to grow your network.