Landmark LGBTQ Study: Canada’s Agencies May Be Failing LGBTQ Creatives

To mark the upcoming and inaugural Inclusivity, Diversity & Equality in Advertising (IDEA) SummitThe Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA), the professional business association representing Canada’s communication & advertising agencies, has released the results of their Diversity and Inclusion in Canada’s Agencies Study. The unprecedented study, surveying over 3000 Canadian creatives, found significant and surprising career challenges for the LGBTQ Community at agencies.

Key Findings of the Survey:

Only 1/3 of the respondents identifying as non-heterosexual said they are completely “out” or open about their sexual orientation in the workplace.

This could be due to personal privacy preferences, but the ICA is concerned that this could indicate apprehension that coming out could hamper careers or reputations in some way.

  • 86% of creative employees identify as heterosexual
  • 9% identify as LGBTQ
  • 5% identify as asexual  

As a direct response to the survey findings, Pride in Advertising and Marketing North America is being launched in Canada and will be modelled on the highly successful work of Pride AM UK.  Founded by ICA President and CEO Scott Knox, Pride AM UK was the world’s first LGBT+ organisation for people working in creative industries and took on a mandate of improving the experience, support and representation of LGBTQ + people both within the creative industry and in brand communications. Through mentoring, advocacy and challenging major brands for diversity and inclusion in advertising, Pride AM has made a major impact on the careers and lives of LGBTQ + consumers and creatives.

“All the progress that we’ve made in diversity must be matched with as much attention to inclusivity, which is why we need Pride AM here,” said Scott Knox, who will serve as President of Pride AM North America and was the Founding President of Pride AM UK. “Pride AM is about creating an environment where LGBTQ creatives can be their genuine, authentic selves in the workplace, it is incumbent on us as leaders in the community to step forward and make inclusion and diversity a reality, not just survey results.”

Surprisingly, the survey also recorded numerous negative comments by white heterosexual male respondents questioning the need for the survey and its inclusion questions.

“Based on these surprisingly negative comments about the survey and its importance, agency leadership must do more to educate heterosexual creatives on inclusivity and diversity issues,” added Knox. “Having a safe, diverse and inclusive workplace isn’t just the right thing to do for LGBTQ creatives, a happier and inclusive workplace leads to greater commercial success for agencies, so everyone wins.”

These and many more issues of inclusivity and diversity will be front and centre at the ICA’s
Inclusivity, Diversity & Equality in Advertising (IDEA) Summit (October 1-3 in Toronto.) The ICA has commissioned a lineup of fearless and passionate advocates of inclusion such as:

  • Cindy Gallop – Bestselling Author, Adwoman Extraordinaire and Consummate Badass.
  • Lisen StrombergAuthor, Journalist and Cultural Innovation Consultant.
  • Darren Martin Jr. – Bold Culture – Multicultural Communications

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