South African Marketing Industry Alliance announces Second WFA Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Census

Marketing and advertising professionals from around the world are being asked to share their views on the state of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the industry by participating in the second Global DEI Census in marketing. South Africa – often considered a global pacesetter in DEI following the country’s transition to democracy in 1994 – is among the 33 countries participating in the Census, which goes live here on 15 March 2023.

The initiative is supported by a coalition of 10 global marketing and advertising organisations. These include WFA (World Federation of Advertisers), VoxComm, Campaign, Kantar, Advertising Week, Cannes Lions, Effie Worldwide, IAA, Global Web Index (GWI) and Adweek. In South Africa, an alliance comprising MASA, the local WFA affiliate, and sister industry bodies, the ACA, ARB, IAB, IMC, Kantar South Africa and MRF will spearhead this project to ensure wide reach across the corporate, agency, SMME and freelance marketing landscape.


The DEI Census questionnaire is based on a format used in the UK by the Advertising Association, IPA and ISBA as the “All In Census”, but with slight adaptations for legal and cultural reasons. Equivalent local industry coalitions support the rollout of the questionnaire in each of the 33 markets. The Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA) has taken custody of the Census in South Africa. Brian Yuyi, Masa CEO comments:

“This is the second wave of the inaugural 2021 WFA Global DEI Census. And as the South African WFA affiliate, MASA is immensely proud to be associated with this global effort working with our local partner industry bodies and Kantar South Africa.

“We are cognisant that the marketing, advertising, and communications industry is facing the same challenges as the rest of the country. But times of adversity are the most relevant to take stock of what it will take to move us forward as an industry and country. Only by refreshing and adding to our body of knowledge can appropriate action be taken to address gaps in diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We urge all stakeholders to take just 15 minutes to complete the survey and be part of the change they want to see in our industry”.

The primary purpose of the Census is to measure the state of diversity, equity and inclusion in the marketing and advertising industry. It also quantifies people’s sense of belonging, the level of discrimination and negative behaviours. The results will indicate how much progress has been made since the inaugural 2021 census, which covered 27 markets.

“DEI continues to be one of the critical success factors for the marketing industry agencies and the clients they partner with. As the landscape changes, it is vital that we consistently update our insights,” says Ivan Moroke, CEO, South Africa, Insights Division at Kantar.

Moroke emphasises, “All voices need to be heard to shed light on the true state of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the marketing industry. And with key developments in the MAC Charter, the census comes at an opportune time.”

To participate, marketing professionals from across the marketing ecosystem – advertisers, agencies, media, ad tech and platforms – will be asked to complete an anonymous 15-minute questionnaire covering their demographic profile, including race, ethnicity, religion, age (in accordance with local legal frameworks) as well as their experiences at work.

“The Integrated Marketing Council (IMC) is committed to the upliftment of our industry and is proud to support this important initiative however possible,” says Dale Hefer, IMC CEO.

Gail Schimmel – CEO at ARB, adds, “The ARB is excited to support MASA and our international body, ICAS, in rolling out this census. The wider the participation, the more meaningful the results will be, so we call on the industry to participate. As we review the MAC Sector Charter, the information from this census will be critical”.

Says Mathe Okaba, CEO of the ACA, “The ACA supports our industry partners MASA in rolling out the second DEI survey. The census allows a deeper, regularly updated understanding of our sector. The regularity of the census allows for deeper understanding of  DEI in our sector and is critical in guiding our engagement with the MAC Charter Council on the state of transformation within the industry”.

The Census will be open for responses between 15 March and 15 April, with the global coalition working closely alongside national associations, multinationals, agency groups and all other relevant industry groups to promote participation.

The Census results are due to be released in June 2023. The results will showcase areas of progress and highlight areas of regression. So far, over 100 organisations have pledged to promote and help support the initiative, making it the biggest collaboration within the marketing and communications industry to date.

The inaugural Global DEI Census of 2021 found that one in seven professionals said they would likely leave their company and the industry because of a lack of diversity and inclusion. It also identified that the most common forms of discrimination were experienced based on gender, age and caregiving responsibilities (those looking after the young, the elderly or the sick) as well as race, ethnicity and disability. The full results and analysis from Wave 1, which covered 27 markets and attracted more than 10,000 responses, can be seen here.

Since the first global Census, the WFA has published a Charter for Change, outlining how global organisations, such as advertisers, platforms and agency-holding groups, can take concrete steps to drive more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. The Charter is designed to complement action plans devised and driven at local level by local coalitions designed to address specific local challenges.

“We believe that South Africa is rich in talent and potential, as such, the accountability is on us as a collective to walk the journey of transformation. DEI requires support, accountability and action to see results and create a sustainable environment. We are excited to be part of this conversation locally and hope to make an impact in the industry this year”, concludes Claudelle Naidoo, IAB Board Member and CEO of EssenceMediacom South Africa.


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