DEI: How the Swiss industry compares internationally

Every two years, the "Global DEI Census" of the World Federation of Advertising WFA examines where the international advertising industry stands in terms of diversity, equality and inclusion. The Swiss Advertisers Association SWA presents the global and Swiss results in detail.

The study was conducted this spring in 91 countries with around 13,000 people - 224 of them from Switzerland. Overall, more women (63% worldwide, 57% in Switzerland) than men (37% worldwide, 43% in Switzerland) participated. This indicates that the topic of DEI - short for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion - may have a higher relevance for women.

DEI is a reason to quit for nearly one in seven people

The results of the study show that around 14 percent of the marketing professionals surveyed worldwide would like to leave the industry due to a lack of diversity, equality and inclusion. In Switzerland, around 8 percent of respondents would like to turn their backs on the industry. This figure rises to 11 percent for people with disabilities - and even 17 percent for LGBQ+ people.

(Graphics: Global DEI Census Switzerland Market Report)

Swiss companies make progress in terms of DEI

Based on the answers to the questions relating to well-being, positive behaviors and the absence of discrimination, the global DEI inclusion index is 63 percent worldwide. Switzerland scores above average, with an index of 70 percent above the global average. The Inclusion Index is made up of three sub-indices, "sense of belonging," "absence of discrimination," and "presence of demeaning behavior," based on employees' perceptions of their work environment and the company.

In this context, 57 percent of the Swiss marketers surveyed agree with the statement that their company is taking active steps toward more diversity and equality. 49 percent believe that the situation has improved with regard to DEI compared to the last two years.

According to the study, all minority groups are relatively well represented in the Swiss advertising industry - compared to global data. Only persons with disabilities are underrepresented at 6 percent, compared to an international average of 22 percent.

The most common grounds of discrimination: Age, gender and marital status

Globally, the study cites age, gender and marital status as the most common forms of discrimination. Forty-one percent of women, 42 percent of parents and 39 percent of dependents believe family responsibilities hinder careers.

It is particularly interesting to note that both 12 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 15 percent of 55- 64-year-olds say they have experienced discrimination because of their age. Some because they are too inexperienced, others because they are too old.

The situation is very similar in Switzerland: 22 percent of respondents think that age is an obstacle. This figure rises to 28 percent among respondents aged 44 to 54. Furthermore, 44 percent of those who have dependent children believe that marital status hinders their career in their company.

Significant wage differentials in Switzerland

The study shows a considerable pay gap for women at all positions in Switzerland: -22% at executive management level, -9% at senior level, a considerable -32% at specialist level and -2% at junior level.

For ethnic minorities, this wage gap exists only at the lower levels with -25% at the junior level. One possible reason for this could be that the new employees are not sufficiently familiar with the wage structure. No corresponding differences could be identified at the other function levels.


Interested parties can download the entire study from the SWA website. The international results on "The Global DEI Census 2023." there are here. The "Deep Dive" Switzerland is available here.

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