The Queer Lived Experience Report 2022

Landmark research exploring queer experience in Canada's agencies reveals high levels of discrimination

By PrideAM

  • PrideAM’s findings show 2SLGBTQ+ individuals also far more likely to experience sexual harassment in agencies.
  • Significant percentage of 2SLGBTQ+ professionals protect their true identity.
  • Call for agency leaders and HR departments to create conditions for greater 2SLGBTQ+ inclusion.

People who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ in Canada’s agencies face higher levels of discrimination in the workplace than their straight and cisgender peers, according to a new report from PrideAM, the 2SLGBTQ+ body for the marketing and brand communications industries.

Despite the perceived progressive nature of the advertising and communications industry, 11% of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals have experienced homophobia in their agency and are 75% more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace.

Alongside blatant discrimination, the Queer Lived Experience Report 2022, based on responses to the 2020 ICA Talent Census Report, also highlights issues with disclosure of identify among 2SLGBTQ+ professionals in agencies. When asked, 33% of 2SLGBTQ+ respondents skipped the survey question “Are you out?”. The report finds that this could indicate an absence or deficiency of emotional safety or security in feeling able to disclose this status to a public, anonymous source.

The report shows that, while the advertising industry has above average representation of 2SLGBTQ+ individuals compared to the Canadian population, these professionals are younger and in a more financially precarious situation. For instance, 19% of 2SLGBTQ+ agency professionals describe their current economic status as “low income”, 29% above their non-2SLGBTQ+ peers.

When it comes to positions, 2SLGBTQ+ professionals are 31% more likely to be entry-level in agencies compared to their non-2SLGBTQ+ peers, 29% less likely to be department leads/directors, and 31% less likely to be executives.

Deven Dionisi, director of marketing strategy and insights at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Partnership, and one of the report’s authors, said: “The exposure and familiarity with discrimination is an indicator as to why we have gaps in representation in our industry.”

Sam Archibald, the creative director and owner of the creative agency Shortstop and another of the report’s authors, said: “We have more representation than in the general community, but the opportunity is for more 2SLGBTQ+ folk to be agency leaders, and to really have positions of power in the agency community.”

The report’s findings were mixed when it comes to 2SLGBTQ+ professionals’ perceptions of the industry’s ability to change and remove bias. For instance, 19%

of 2SLGBTQ+ professionals disagree or strongly disagree that recruitment processes are bias-free. However, 59% disagree or strongly disagree with that statement.

It concludes with an appeal to the industry to “make positive and impactful changes” for 2SLGBTQ+ professionals through education, policies and practices. The report also encourages 2SLGBTQ+ people and their allies to connect with PrideAM as it explores new initiatives, including the next stages of its industry research.

Jerry Jarosinski, senior director, CRM strategy at Klick, also co-authored the report. He said: “This is a steppingstone; we will definitely look at a follow-up study to dig deeper into these issues and also to recruit more individuals to provide results.”

Download the Queer Lived Experience Report 2022

About the report

The report is the work of numerous volunteers and members of PrideAM, including Jerry Jarosinski, Deven Dionisi, and Sam Archibald. Assistance and support were provided by Amanda McMillan, Scott Knox, and The Institute of Canadian Agencies..