The Advertising Association has launched a new campaign – timeTo – designed to end sexual harassment in the advertising industry. Based on research from the industry’s thinktank Credos, timeTo encompasses research and a dedicated code of conduct that we will be encouraging businesses within the industry to adopt.

At the launch of the Code, WACL president Kerry Glazer explained the need for a clear understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment and how it should be reported:

“We needed to create clarity around what constitutes sexual harassment… and where people could go for guidance and support. The Code serves as a guide for everyone in the industry… for those who have been sexually harassed, for those who have witnessed harassment, and for those who have been wrongly accused.”


AA chief executive Stephen Woodford explained the origin of the report was when he took part in a retreat at which members of the advertising community shared stories of sexual harassment they had witnessed, which disabused him of the notion it was a thing of the past:

“I was wrong in my perception that things were much worse then. We formed a working group that Tess [Alps] chaired, and the first thing we thought we’d do was some research.

“9% of men on the survey said they’d suffered sexual harassment. 80% of those who’d suffered sexual harassment said they didn’t want to report it. We’ll do that survey again in a year’s time and I hope we’ve seen some huge improvements.”

The research takes into account over 3,500 responses from across the advertising industry, which were contributed by respondents on an anonymous basis. A breakdown of the methodology behind the study is available upon request. Among the key findings, the report demonstrates that:

  • Of those surveyed, 26% of have been sexually harassed while working in the advertising and marketing industry – 34% of female respondents and 9% of male respondents
  • The great majority (72%) of those who have been sexually harassed have been harassed more than once, and of them, 25% have been harassed 6 times or more
  • A further 30% have witnessed sexual harassment happening to others so, in total, 41% have either experienced it and/or witnessed it (some people have both experienced it and witnessed it)
  • Sexual harassment is far from being a thing of a past – some 20% of female respondents aged 18-24 have already been sexually harassed in the few years they’ve spent working in the industry. Some 5% of men in the same age group have also experienced sexual harassment
  • Of those respondents who have been sexually harassed, 69% have experienced it within the last five years, while 28% have experienced it within the last 12 months
  • The results reveal a significant lack of clarity in both the definition of sexual harassment and in reporting systems
  • Many respondents also expressed distrust in reporting systems, with fears of career damage, and consequently 83% of those harassed said they did not officially report their experiences
  • Looking forwards, 97% of people surveyed agreed that ‘sexual harassment should not be tolerated in our industry’ showing the almost universal desire for action

As a result of those findings, the Advertising Association has put together its timeTo code of conduct which sets out, among other things, a framework for complaints procedures that ensure the victims of sexual harassment can bring it to their managers’ attention without fear of reprisal or that their harasser will find out.

Among the high profile companies who have already signed up to the code are: AAR, adam&eveDDB, Advertising Association, BBH London, Campaign, DCM, Direct Marketing Association, Havas London, IPA, ISBA, ITV, Lucky Generals, Karmarama, NABS, Ogilvy, Pearl&Dean, Thinkbox, Vizeum, WACL, 8Outdoor.

For more information, to request a copy of the report or to get involved, please contact the Advertising Association on matthew.evans@adassoc.org.uk.