By Jo Coombs, CEO at OgilvyOne UK


Greater inclusion in the industry is an issue close to our hearts at Ogilvy. Earlier this week, I was joined by members from our creative internship, The Pipe, to discuss all things diversity & inclusion at the IAB’s Diversity in Marketing & Advertising Summit. The event highlighted success stories, best practices and insights from inspirational leaders currently helping to champion diversity & inclusion in the advertising world.

Inclusion in the industry: 4 key things to keep in mind:

1. Removing Barriers

As an industry, I believe we have the chance to lead the way when it comes to inclusion & diversity. But to foster this we need to be progressive in the way we remove the barriers to working in the industry - the barriers that lead to exclusivity. Barriers such as wealth, cultural acceptance, education and where, when, and how we expect people to work – this generation rising through the ranks need to look to the top and aspire to our roles as leaders, not fear them for lack of balance.

2. Flexibility

Where ways of working are concerned, a key barrier for entry into the industry can often be the lack of flexible ways of working that a company offers, it’s something I feel incredible strongly about- Whether this is applicable to single parents, to the working environment itself, or indeed to millennials; I believe that incorporating flexibility is essential to fostering a workforce that is able to bring an array of skills and interests reflective of the real world.

3. Trust

We need to trust and empower our talent, to instill a sense of belief in both their capabilities and contribution to our companies. This is the only way we will be able to move from the old mechanical systems of hierarchies to more adaptive systems of empowered networks that are open to experiment. Trust me – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the phenomenal work that can be created when you loosen the reigns & provide an environment bespoke to individual needs.

4. Level the playing field

Unconscious bias is a well known factor in the recruitment process, however by no means is it necessary. In order to employ and attract a truly more diverse pool of talent we need to find different ways and places to find, grow and keep talent within the industry. We need to tackle the issue of biases (conscious and unconscious) to create a level playing field. The way in which we sought talent for The Pipe was based solely on creative capability rather than educational background, appearance or any other factor. In fact, the first two stages of the process were completely ‘blind’. If creativity is at the heart of what we do, and culturally relevant work is the ultimate goal, then our teams need to look, feel and be empowered to behave in a way that is representative of today’s world. As a city we have openly declared ‘London is open’, and as an industry we need to follow suit.


I asked our Pipe recruits to shed light on how Ogilvy’s recruitment process fostered diversity & what that meant for their own experience, and the creative work they produced.

Walk us through the recruitment experience, it’s quite different to anything you would usually see in the creative industry - what did you find so appealing about the process?

Kelvin Chiu, Pipe Recruit - Previously: Engineer, Film Director

“What attracted me to Ogilvy was how they embraced creative talent outside of advertising. Without having a portfolio and a creative partner, it would have almost been impossible for someone like me—with a completely different educational background—to start a career in today’s advertising industry. The recruitment experience negated all of this.”

What has been the upside to working within a group of people whereby the talent pool ranges from engineer to poet?

Joanna Osborne, Pipe Recruit - Previously: Award-Winning Copywriter

I think it took away the atmosphere of cut throat competition you often get in these kind of internship/grad scheme processes. Everyone’s clutching to the splinters at the bottom of the job ladder and not letting go for anyone. But because we were all so different everyone’s contribution was special and therefore valuable. It was like being part of a creative toolbox, rather than 14 little disposable pawns on a chessboard.

What has been the upside to working within a group of people whereby the talent pool ranges from engineer to poet?

Yolanta Boti, Pipe Recruit – Previously: Coder, Actress

Every day is different, never dull, that’s what keeps it interesting for me. Depending on the brief we get, we’ve ended up in a recording studio in Soho - writing, singing and recording a jingle. Some of us have travelled to Paris and even pitched to client, which many agencies wouldn’t trust their interns to do. And we love bringing a more fun and playful atmosphere to the workplace.

How has working alongside one another impacted the way you operate creatively?

Amie Snow, Pipe Recruit – Previously: Forensic Scientist, Fashion Designer, Animator

The upside is the sheer fact that we all have a different outlook to life so when tackling a brief, we come at it in a very untraditional way of thinking and provide a huge injection of creative zest. The Pipe is an awesome way to take a look into other cultures and other ways of thinking. It’s eye opening to conscious or unconscious biases that you may have had as everyone is from different cities, upbringings, encompass different skills, and have crazy life experiences that were so inspiring.