DEI in the Canadian Marketing Sector

Jun 18, 2024

The CMA’s 2024 research report DEI in the Canadian Marketing Sector: Polarization, Ageism and Mounting Frustration measures progress – or the lack thereof – on diversity metrics that we have been tracking for four years. In addition, it examines the impact of polarization in the workplace and delves more deeply into as challenges of ageism, newcomers, intersectionality and more.

A critical finding in this year’s report is how many of the indicators have remained stagnant. One striking ongoing theme is the differential outcomes between organizations with and without well-diversified leadership teams. Those with well-diversified leadership see better retention, mentorship and employee engagement.

Major highlights include:

  • Marketers are experiencing polarization in the workplace, which negatively impacts productivity and employee engagement.
  • Ageism and intersectionality are affecting marketers’ careers, leading to more discrimination, microaggressions in the workplace, and a higher potential to experience barriers and job loss. A well-diversified leadership team can mitigate the impact.
  • The vast majority (93 per cent) of marketers believe that diverse perspectives lead to better ideas and solutions, and 100 per cent recognizing the value of working with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds.



The CMA’s 2023 research report, DEI in the Marketing Profession: Progress and Challenges, reveals powerful insights about the challenges that marketers from BIPOC and other marginalized communities face in the workplace. It identifies steps that organizations and colleagues can take to improve outcomes not only for individuals but also for the organizations where they work.

Key findings from year three of our research include:

  • Organizations with well-diversified leadership teams are making important strides in creating more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces, while those making no effort to diversify their leadership are experiencing declines in these areas.
  • The business case for making DEI a priority is undeniable.
  • Valued employees are more likely to feel engaged in organizations with well-diversified leadership teams, and are more likely to remain in these organizations.
  • Fewer marketers than in past years say they’ve witnessed discriminatory behaviour and disengagement, but there is still work to be done to improve standards of behaviour.
  • Ageism is a significant issue in the marketing profession. Nearly half of marketers say it is tolerated more than other forms of discrimination.

We launched this research following the commitment that we made in the spring of 2020 to take steps to combat racism and other types of discrimination in the marketing profession. 

The goal of the research is to raise understanding about the barriers that people from BIPOC and other marginalized communities face. By identifying gaps and challenges, we aim to reduce barriers and identify opportunities, to create safe, supportive and inclusive spaces for all.

The research was conducted by RKI – an independent firm that adheres to the highest professional standards.



From Engagement to Retention: DEI’s Impact on the Marketing Profession provides insights from the second year of the CMA’s survey on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Key findings from year two of our research include:

  • A fully inclusive work environment benefits marketers and businesses, but this is an elusive goal for most organizations. 
  • Meaningful DEI efforts can blunt the impact of the Great Resignation. 
  • Overall, employees are more engaged, though there is still work to be done. 
  • In workplaces with well-diversified senior leadership, marketers feel welcome. 
  • Observations and experiences vary widely among marketers from marginalized and non-marginalized communities, and between men and women.
  • Women continue to face gender bias and ageism. 
  • How discrimination is addressed depends on who you are and where you work.
  • Expectations of agencies have shifted in the wake of talent shortages.



Diversity and Inclusion in Canada's Marketing Sector is the CMA’s first research study on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Conclusions include:

  • A diversified C-suite is likely to lead to less discrimination and stronger feelings of inclusion among employees.
  • There is a significant difference in how men vs. women, and minorities vs. non-minorities, notice and experience discrimination.
  • Diversity and inclusion are good for business and should be viewed as a strategy, not a program.

Access the report




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