Voices of our industry

Results Lessons learned Action plan

At Creative Belgium, we are dedicated to promoting creativity for all. We’re committed to shaping a diverse, inclusive, and equitable industry. Our comprehensive survey Voices of our industry asks the big questions about happiness, pay, flexible working, equal opportunities, inappropriate behavior and many more hot topics about the places where we work and charts the current state of our workplaces for the first time since 2019. The results date from 2023.

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Equality | People | Culture | Who

Workforce composition

2 out of 5 employees say they have a female line-manager outside creative roles (39% vs. 28% in 2019). Still only 2 out of 10 creatives report to have a female manager. Which is already twice as much as in 2019.

Recognition, reward, appreciation, being listened to. The management should provide us with a better working environment.

– Senior, Female, 35-44

Equal Opportunity

When was your last promotion at this company?
Female Male
Less than a year ago
1-2 years ago
3-4 years ago
Longer than 5 years ago
I haven’t been promoted, expecting a promotion soon
I haven’t been promoted, and not expecting a promotion

3 out of 4 have worked on a new business pitch or a high-profile project in the past year, mainly male employees.

Did your work win any awards in the last year?
Female Male
No, it hasn't been entered into any awards
No, it's been entered but didn't win
Not applicable

Pay Equity

Almost 3 out of 5 agree that their pay level is fair for their qualifications and skills. Seniors agree more often.

Equality | People | Culture | Who


3 out of 5 people are happy with their work-life balance. At the same time more than 3 out of 5 of the respondents indicate that they regularly work more than their contracted hours.

How long do you think you’ll stay with the industry overall?
Less than a year 0%
1-2 years 5%
3-4 years 5%
5+ years 91%

3 in 5 (62%) feel that recruitment decisions are based solely on skills (59% in 2019).


Less than half have received training in the last year. There’s no positive evolution since 2019.

Did you receive any training in the last year? And if so, was the subject linked to your career goals?
Yes, I had training and it was linked to my career goals.
Yes, I had training but it wasn't linked to my career goals
No, I haven't had any training in the last year
No, I have started recently

Men indicate more often that they haven’t had any training in the last year.

If training were available, what would help creatives progress?
Tech/digital/innovation 54%
Presentation skills 39%
Pitching skills 35%
Leadership skills 32%
Managing stress 29%

Mental Health

Only half of the employees feel that there is awareness of mental health issues, especially younger employees doubt this.

Three quarter of employees sometimes feel stressed at work, especially younger employees.

Do you feel that there is awareness of mental health issues in your company?
Yes 52%
No 24%
Not sure 21%
Prefer not to answer 3%

Parenting & Caring

Just like in 2019, females are more likely to think working at their company makes it harder for them to have a family.

Recruitment & Retention

Half of the employees think they will stay more than 5 years with their company and more than 9 in 10 think they will stay more than 5 years with the industry overall.

Equality | People | Culture | Who

Inclusive culture

Most employees think their agency is diverse on gender and age, but less so by social background and disability.

How much do creative people agree with the following statements?
I feel free to express myself at work 82%
I feel my contributions in meetings are respected and valued 78%
I feel included at work 81%
I feel valued in my role 74%

4 in 5 feel free to express themselves at work and feel that their contributions in meetings are respected and valued.

Inappropriate behavior

3 out of 10 have experienced or witnessed inappropriate behaviour in the past year, an increase compared to 2019.

1 out of 5 would feel comfortable to report inappropriate behaviour, but do not know how.

29% have experienced or witnessed any kind of inappropriate behaviour in the last 12 months (19% in 2019). Employees who have any neurodiverse trait are more likely to have experienced inappropriate behaviour.

Our CEO has outdated views on gender and religion and makes annoying and inappropriate jokes about it.

– Senior, Female, 35-44
Would you feel comfortable reporting inappropriate behavior in your company? And do you know how?
Yes, and I know how to report 63%
Yes, but I don’t know how 20%
No, I wouldn’t be comfortable 8%
Not sure 9%

People higher in the hierarchy behave in a pejorative and contemptuous manner.

– Junior, Female, 18-24

Leaders & Managers

An enormous majority of the employees (87%) feel that their line manager is responsive for their needs outside of work.

People of diverse characteristics and backgrounds are visible and speak regularly.
Agree 50%
Neither agree nor disagree 21%
Disagree 24%

Only half of the respondents agree that the leaders at their company have demonstrated diversity is important to the company’s success.

Just over 4 in 10 employees already have or had a mentor in their company. A quarter would like to have one, 2 out of 5 don’t need one. 

Purposes & Values

7 out of 10 agree that they share the values and believes of their company. A quarter say business leaders have not given them a vision that motivates them.

How much do creative people agree with the following statements?
I share the values and believes of our company 68%
I see myself still working here in a year's time 70%
I have a great relationship with my line manager 69%
I feel that the work I do is meaningful 55%
Our company has a purpose beyond making money 56%
The leaders at our company have communicated a vision that motivates me 56%

Half of the employees feel that there is awareness of mental health issues, but 1 out of 4 younger employees doubt this. 

Flexible working

4 in 5 say their organization has a flexible working policy (3 in 5 in 2019).

Where do you get your best ideas or work done?
Anywhere 41%
In the office 23%
At home 17%
On my commute 8%
Outdoors 8%
In a coffee shop 1%
Other 3%

For almost a third, it doesn’t matter where they are to get their best ideas or work done. Younger employees indicate more often that they get their best ideas in the office.

Neurodivergent workers are less likely to perform best in the office.

The majority of the employees (63%) continues to work from home after the corona crisis because it provides a better work-life balance.

I think it's important to go back to the office more often now that the corona crisis is over to have contact with my colleagues.
Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Not applicable

Equality | People | Culture | Who

Let’s work together to create happy workplaces where everyone with a role in this creative industry feels they belong.

– Isabel Van den Broeck, MD Creative Belgium

1 out of 3 works in a creative role, just like in 2019.

Works in an advertising agency 69%
Works in a production company 10%
Works in a design studio 5%
Works in other 16%

3 out of 5 surveyed workers are female, for creative departments we see a lower representation of 2 out of 5.

Half of the respondents is younger than 35.

The vast majority is higher educated.

18-34 years old 53%
White European 77%
Atheist / agnostic 73%
Higher degree 94%
Dutch (first language) 76%
Straight 86%
Not neurodivergent 79%
Not disabled 94%

The surveyed Belgian creative workforce is homogenous. There is still a lack of representation of certain groups, particularly ethnic minorities. Only 13% has a migration background.

1 in 5 report having a neurodivergent trait, in creative departments it is 1 out of 3. 1 out of 10 is disabled, versus 1 out of 50 in 2019.

3 out of 5 surveyed employees in the creative industry are happy with their current role. Only 1 in 10 say they are dissatisfied.

64% of Belgian creative industry employees are happy.
Neither happy nor unhappy

3% preferred not to answer/don't know

A third have been working in the same company for more than five years, over half of the people work more than 3 years within the current agency. 17% have been working there for less than a year.

Results Lessons learned Action plan

1. Workforce composition

No surprises here, the Belgian creative workforce is relatively homogenous. There is underrepresentation in terms of social backgrounds and disabilities. For instance, only 13% of the workforce has a migratory background. The surveyed workforce perceives some diversity in terms of age and gender, although the glass ceiling has yet to be shattered. Two out of five surveyed employees have a female line manager. This number decreases when looking at creatives, where only one out of five has a female line manager. Another interesting statistic is that one in five employees reports having a neurodivergent background.

2. Happiness at work

Overall, we’re quite a happy bunch. Three out of five employees are happy in their current roles, although the Net Promoter Score (NPS) has shown a slight decline compared to 2019. Employees are now less likely to recommend their company as a workplace than they were in 2019. Three-quarters of surveyed individuals sometimes feel stressed at work, especially the younger employees. They indicate that they would be happier with less pressure and more openness and communication from management.

3. Career progression

We can categorise these conclusions into two main areas: training and pay. Nearly three out of five believe their pay is fair for their level of skill and qualifications. Senior employees express higher satisfaction with their pay compared to junior employees. The surveyed workforce indicates a need for more training. Half of them report not having received any training in the past year, and they feel there's a necessity to enhance their leadership, technical, digital, and innovation skills, as well as their pitching skills. Three-quarters of the respondents have worked on a new business pitch or a high-profile project in the past year, with the majority being male employees.

4. Hybrid working

Our industry is pretty flexible. Four out of five employees say their organisation has a flexible work policy, which is an increase compared to 2019. The corona crisis has clearly had an impact. Before the pandemic, half of the employees had never worked from home; today, that number has decreased to one in ten. Three out of five employees continue to work from home for a better work-life balance, but four out of five find it important to return to the office to reconnect with their colleagues. Especially young employees mention having more and better ideas when working in the office.

5. Mental health

Mental health is one of the most significant challenges facing our industry. There is a need for greater awareness on this topic. Only half of the surveyed employees feel that there is awareness of mental health issues in their company, with younger employees particularly sharing this perspective.

6. Inappropriate behavior

Inappropriate behavior is a concern in the creative industry, often involving improper jokes or comments, particularly about sexuality and race. The survey has observed an increase in employees who have experienced or witnessed such behavior. One-fifth of all employees do not know how or where to report this.

7. Parenting in the creative industry

Our industry could be more supportive of parents and people considering starting a family. One in five people in this situation believes that working for their company negatively impacts their family life. This is even more challenging for female workers, with a quarter of them feeling this way. More than six out of ten (prospective) parents believe they can successfully balance their family life and their job at their company. They express a willingness to return to their employer after parental leave.

8. Retention

One-third of all those surveyed have been working at the same company for more than five years, while 17% have been in their current job for less than a year. Four out of five employees feel free to express themselves at work, believing their contributions in meetings are respected and valued. Half of all employees believe they will stay at their company for five years or more. A whopping 96% of those surveyed express a desire to remain in the industry for at least three more years.

9. Mentorship

Mentorship is another area of focus in our industry, as it plays a crucial role in professional development. Besides offering motivation and expertise, having a mentor can provide long-term benefits to mentees. Just over four in ten employees have had or currently have a mentor at their company. A quarter of those surveyed would like to have a mentor, while two out of five don't consider it necessary. Today, a significant majority of employees feel that their line manager is responsive to their needs outside of work.

Results Lessons learned Action plan

1. Working on purpose and getting everyone involved

These topics are important in every industry, which includes our universe of creativity. It's essential to maintain awareness. Creative Belgium aims to continue spreading the message and to assist you in doing the same. We encourage everyone to explore these issues deeply and find a profound purpose in this field. This will help us foster a sense of togetherness, ensuring that everyone feels valued and included.

All-in Day

We believe in diversity, equity and inclusion for all. That’s why we’re launching the very first All-In Day on October 3th, next year. Because unlike your vacations, our industry should be all-inclusive. Creative Belgium is taking the lead. We will equip organisations with the tools and resources needed to effectively approach, commemorate, and celebrate this day. A grand kick-off event will set the tone, and we hope all of you will join in. Because inclusion is the only possible conclusion.

2. Supporting underrepresented and young talent

Yes, our industry is a wonderful universe, brimming with talent. But still, we have some severe blind spots. Many talented people remain underrepresented, for instance women and non-binary people, people of color and/or from a migration background, and those with disabilities. We want to help level the playing field by providing equal opportunities for all talent. We hope to help with a few initiatives.

Mentorship programs

Mentorship programs are a win-win. Both mentors and mentees can benefit. Knowledge and skills get passed along, and the playing field becomes more level. Creative Belgium will support this by connecting people from different companies, with different backgrounds and levels of experience. Our Creative Boost program offers another valuable opportunity. In this six-part series, available both online and in real life (IRL), female creative leaders in Belgium share their knowledge with other female and non-binary individuals.

Scholarships and grants

Several (inter)national organisations provide scholarships, grants and educational opportunities in the creative industry. We’re happy to act as matchmakers and connect you with the most suitable option. We'll offer all the necessary information, ensuring that people from underrepresented groups can access industry conferences, workshops, or advance their education without additional barriers. If we can help, please reach out.

The All-In Alliance

Our industry is missing out on a lot of talent from underrepresented groups. We are determined to be a catalyst for change. That's why we're forming the All-In Alliance, a group of volunteers who share a special interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Together, we can gather insights, address concerns, and create opportunities to drive positive change. Interested? Get in touch!

3. Learning and development initiatives

We're all about learning, growing, and developing, and that includes everyone in our industry. We strongly encourage employers to provide their teams with the space to do the same. An extra focus on diversity, equity and inclusion goes without saying.

Hello Creative? Also an inclusion hotline

This new inclusion hotline will handle specific questions and concerns about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). If you have any questions, feel free to send them to Creative Belgium, and we will connect you with the right expert partner. Wondering if your new poster concept is inclusive enough? Doubting if your post about Ramadan is a good fit for your brand? Pride Month is coming up, but you’re not sure if you should modify your logo because – you know – rainbow washing? Just ask, and we’ll help you out. Whatsapp on +32 491 768 638.


The right workshop can boost the growth of your team, their skills and the overall impact of your organization. Creative Belgium will continue investing in targeted workshops covering topics like bias and skill-specific DEI training. Additionally, we are expanding this package with three creative labs that will concentrate on trending subjects such as emerging technological innovations and presentation skills.

4. Promoting a safe and healthy work environment

Very sad, but very true. Inappropriate behavior still persists in the workplace. Often, this behavior is rooted in bias, lack of awareness, cultural differences, or ignorance. We want to fight this and create a safe work environment for all. Here are a few of our initiatives:

We hear you

It can be tough to speak up when you’re the victim or even a witness to inappropriate behavior, especially when it involves your superiors. Creative Belgium is an ally. We want your voice to be heard. We’re here for you, we’re listening. That’s why we will establish an online reporting form. There you can report any inappropriate behavior within your organization anonymously. Subsequently, Creative Belgium will address the issue with the concerned organization. Your safety and privacy are our priorities.

If you, as an employee, are still unsure about contacting us, there are alternatives available. You can reach out to the confidant within your company, contact the services of the Supervision of Welfare at Work, get in touch with a union, or use Idewe's whistleblowing service.

Happiness at work

We’re big fans of happiness officers in the workplace. They serve as trusted people who can address staff concerns and have the authority to make positive changes within the organization. We believe in equipping them with additional tools, including:

  • Educational opportunities such as workshops, book reviews and webinars
  • The establishment of a network of happiness officers to connect and share views, ideas, experiences and good practices

Trainings and tools on microaggressions

Inappropriate behavior. A term that’s tricky to spell correctly in the first go, but can also be difficult to recognise in real-time sometimes. We work in a fast-paced industry where tensions can rise and things can get heated. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for crossing any lines. Training and tools on this subject can enhance awareness of boundaries. This can be especially beneficial for leadership and HR. Our Creative Voices Coaching program offers a solution. The first course will address the removal of biases, microaggressions, and inappropriate behavior.


Voices of our Industry is an in-depth survey of the Belgian creative communication industry, initiated by Creative Belgium. In March-April 2023, ad professionals of all kinds took part in the second Voices of our industry study providing us new insights on the representation and experience of Belgium’s workforce in advertising & communication, and data to benchmark progress from 2019.

Creative Belgium exists to promote, encourage and celebrate creative excellence for brands and businesses. Creative Belgium welcomes and unites people who believe in creativity as a business driver and is committed to shaping a happy, diverse, inclusive and equal industry.

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