[excerpt] Diversity is a big buzz word in the industry at the moment yet Scott Knox, who was speaking at the Festival of Marketing as the founder of PrideAM but also leads the MAA, said he is yet to see any real changes happening.

“I am bored with tokenism. Bored with the pledging and pamphlet pushing going on around this issue. What we need is real change. Consumers are going to demand it. It needs to happen.” – Scott Knox, founder, PrideAM

Yet he believes diversity is still undervalued. He said the MAA did a recent straw poll of its members’ views of the organisation. It found that while the organisation is well known for its work on diversity, the value that is attributed to that was ranked just one or two out of five.

Speaking on the same panel, Dr Christine Bailey who has previously headed up Cisco’s ‘connected women’ initiative said this is surprising given that there are “plenty of stats” showing that diversity is good for business. And she highlighted that while 75% of CEOs have gender diversity in their priority list according to a recent McKinsey study, it is one of up to 10 strategic priorities and that there is a “big difference between what people say and the reality”.

That is the key issue, said Know, who believes too many companies are focus on quotas or pledges and not on ultimately tackling the issue –

Nikki Watkins speaks out about collaboration and inclusivity at the Festival of Marketing 2016

which he highlighted goes beyond gender or ethnicity and also includes factors such as age, disability and sexuality. What he wants to see is an industry tackling the idea of inclusion so that the debate becomes less about opening doors to true equality in the workplace.

“Diversity is too shallow at the moment. It needs to be done but it is not enough. I want to see people able to be their true authentic selves in the worldplace regardless of their background. It is about getting the best out of people so they flourish,” he said.

By making coding more attractive to young girls with programmes such as ‘Girls That Code’, the tech industry is attracting more women, but there is much work still to be done. Roberta Lucca, part of the BBC series ‘Girls That Code, said that it had shocked her during the series that some of the participants, young women aged 17-18, had not realised how technology could help their creativity.

“It shocked me that they didn’t realise how much technology could help them be creative. They thought creativity was fashion or art, not using creativity to make something new,” Lucca commented.

The panel said that though coding will change the way the workforce is structured, women working in corporate is an area that still needs addressing. Tyche Leadership Consulting’s Nikki Watkins believes this is something that can be helped by millennials and the fact that they want the same things as women.

Watkins said: “Women want the same things millennials do. They want collaboration, they want to be included in the creation, they want to have life, not work-life balance, they want to have purpose and values met at work.”