Friday, December 2, 2022

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    Australia’s newest industry group aims to tackle ageism

    Less than 5% of people in the ad industry are over 50, an issue Australia’s newest industry group hopes to change.

    The newly created Advertising Ageist Action Group (AAAG) aims to move fast to tackle one of the most overlooked areas of industry diversity initiatives.

    The group was spearheaded by Greg “Sparrow” Graham, founder of The Nest Consultancy and former WPP AUNZ Marketing Director, who has 45 year’s experience in the industry working for DDB, JWT, Leo Burnett, McCann, Mindshare and Group M. Graham was recently inducted to the Media Federation of Australia (MFA) Hall of Fame and used his acceptance speech to draw attention to the issue. 

    Graham told The Drum the AAAG has already recruited ten committee members and is working with the MFA’s DE&I committee to help drive positive changes in the next 12 months.

    “Ageism is an issue that I have been passionate about for a while,” said Graham.  “Obviously, I’m in the demographic, and I’ve experienced it. But, when you consider that less than 5% of people in agencies are over 50, I mean, that’s not diverse.

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    “As an industry we’ve made lots of headway with areas of diversity, particularly female leadership but with ageism, we suck.”

    “I’m trying to get ageism in the diversity conversation. Because that conversation is top of mind, but not when it comes to ageism.”

    According to Graham, the issue is a combination of the impact of digital, cost efficiencies and the broader societal trend of not valuing experience.

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    “The industry is obsessed with youth and I just think it’s bullshit,” said Graham. “You don’t have to be a 25-year-old digital native to understand digital. An older person can understand the impact of digital, it’s not an age thing. You don’t have to be making TikTok videos to understand the impact of the channel, you just need to understand the strategic impact of digital.”

    “We don’t value experience. We are happy to wipe a person out and employ young people to take the role and look at the money we are saving with salaries, but we don’t put a value on 20 or 30 years’ experience.”

    However, the other important thing – which may be the elephant in the room – is whether clients are prepared to pay for experienced people? Because there’s a cost issue, experienced people cost more; it’s that simple. And that takes us back to how we value experience.”

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    The AAAG is in the process of reaching out to other industry groups to ensure that industry-wide action and change are possible. 

    “We are not going to be one of those committees that are all talk – we are called an action group for a reason. Our aim is to start simple, get some action and some quick wins and try to make an impact for change,” said Graham.  

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