school lockers

The Address: Goodstuff throws adland's doors open to all

Attracting more state school educated people into the business is not only fair - it's essential

By Jeremy Lee

With a better ratio of state- to privately-educated employees than the membership of the senior judiciary, but not quite as equitable as those who make up university vice-chancellors, the ad industry still has some way to rebalance and become more representative of society as a whole.

The Advertising Association’s All In report, released last month, revealed that one in five people working in advertising went to a fee-paying school – this compares to just 8 per cent of the population as a whole. In comparison, and according to a 2020 Sutton Trust report, 65 per cent of senior judges went to private school, 52 per cent of diplomats, 24 per cent of police chiefs and 16 per cent of university vice-chancellors. In fact, advertising is on a par with local government leaders on its state to private education employment ratio.

Many of the best agencies have introduced hiring and interviewing initiatives to make the process more equitable to those people who don’t have the advantages that a private education may confer – be that the benefits of knowing the right people or an inherent sense of confidence. Earlier this year, Jed Hallam, head of Mediabrands Content Studio, launched Common People - a network for people from working class backgrounds in the creative industries.

But Goodstuff has now gone one further by partnering with YourGamePlan to offer a bespoke module on media and advertising to all school leaver students as part of their PSHE lessons.

Goodstuff will be providing the content and collateral and showing the routes into advertising and media to a minimum of 1000 students by the end of the year. YourGamePlan's ambition is to reach have 2500 schools signed up to its courses by 2022.

One of the challenges often cited in attracting diverse talent to advertising is that many people from underrepresented groups either don’t really understand the careers available to them within it or don’t know how to apply. YourGamePlan is a digital e-learning platform available to all of school-leaving age, but primarily targeting those from state schools and schools with a certain level of free school meal quota.

You can’t beat discrimination with more discrimination (as recent news has shown). But throwing open the doors to advertising beyond those of the cloisters of private schools will allow in a breath of fresh air we’ll all find reinvigorating. Good stuff, indeed. Or bona res, as they might say in some quarters.


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