Supporting diversity initiatives in advertising

I’ve been part of Debut since May this year and when I first joined the company, I had no clue about the many challenges recruiters face when looking for early talent.

Written by Holly Stocker, Strategic Partnership Manager

I’ve been part of Debut since May this year and when I first joined the company, I had no clue about the many challenges recruiters face when looking for early talent. From the time they spend each year on their attraction campaigns and running around the country to careers fairs, to the amount of CV’s they receive and have to sift through to find the candidates that are right for their business and role. I was surprised to find out that some of the most well-known and advanced companies out there struggle to recruit diverse candidates; diversity being everything from gender and ethnicity to social mobility background and neurodiversity.


We have recently done some great work with a fast-growing digital marketing company called Essence. Part of GroupM, Essence is a global data and measurement-driven agency that blends data science, objective media and captivating experiences to build valuable connections between brands and consumers. They used Debut to source candidates to attend their insight day for their Emerge graduate programme.

Now, it’s not that Essence normally struggles with applications. But they wanted to expand their reach and attract atypical candidates who could bring something different and new to the business. I want to share their success story with you and show you how they secured seven successful hires from diverse backgrounds in less than a month – from a single push notification (‘Talent Spot’) via Debut’s app.

We targeted candidates for Essence’s insight day. The candidates were from a mix of degrees, backgrounds and ethnicities and had recently graduated or left school. All candidates went through a screening phone interview carried out by Essence, the successful candidates were then invited to attend the insight day. 18 Debut users ended up attending, out of which seven hires were made. Our results showed that 83% of these candidates were from a lower socio-economic background, 42% were BAME and half were studying a STEM degree. To top this off, only 42% of these hires had previously expressed an interest in working in the marketing and advertising sector, meaning that they were activated directly through our activity.

The data in our app tells us that of all 18 sectors of interest that Debut users can choose from, Marketing and media is the most popular. For this reason, we have partnered with The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, which is the trade body and professional institute for agencies in the UK’s advertising, media and marketing communications industry. We realised quickly that we could, provide our candidates with the much desired roles they wanted and help the IPA member agencies fuel diversity and streamline the entry level recruitment process within their industry.

It has been an absolute pleasure working with Essence for this campaign and to see how we exceeded their expectation of number of hires. With new hires from a variety of backgrounds, Essence now has a more diverse workforce to drive innovation within their business.

Thank you Essence for letting us share these results.

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