Voices of our industry

A baseline measurement for professionals

Creative Belgium believes in ‘creativity for all’, which is why we are committed to shaping a happy, diverse, inclusive and equal industry for everyone. In October 2019, we set up a baseline measurement that covered everything from how people feel about pay, to flexible working, equal opportunities, happiness and stress, and more. It was the first deep-dive of its kind in the Belgian communication industry. We received a lot of great input and have uncovered more than we expected. We invite you to explore the results on this page.

Interested in more information? Dive into the full pdf report or contact us. We would be happy to pay your agency a visit and tell you more about this project and our future plans.

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Who | Culture | People | Equality | What’s next?

117 different agencies.

31% of respondents works in a creative role, 20% in account management.

Works in an advertising agency 71%
Works in a digital agency 6%
Works in other 23%
The Belgian creative workforce is homogenous.
18-34 years old 59%
White European 92%
Atheist / agnostic 73%
Higher degree 94%
Dutch (first language) 71%
Straight 90%
Not neurodivergent 82%
Not disabled 98%

There is a lack of representation of certain groups, particularly ethnic minorities as well as disabled people.

68% of Belgian creative industry employees are happy.
Very unhappy
Neither happy nor unhappy
Very Happy

1% preferred not to answer

Who | Culture | People | Equality | What’s next?

Inclusive culture

People feel included most likely because they are part of a homogenous environment.

3 in 5 employees believe that people of diverse characteristics are not visible and do not speak regularly in their company.

Leaders in the Belgian industry need to get visibly behind diversity.

I think our company is very white and heterosexual in their way of thinking. Which sometimes has a bad influence on our creations.

– Gay, Non binary, 25-34

Inappropriate behavior

19% of staff have experienced or witnessed inappropriate behavior.

Inappropriate behavior is often in the form of jokes and or jests but is prevalent in the industry. It centers around inappropriate comments around sexuality and race.

Would you feel comfortable reporting inappropriate behavior in your company? And do you know how?
Yes, and i know how to report 57%
Yes, but I don’t know how 15%
No, I wouldn’t be comfortable 12%
Not sure 16%

Inappropriate text messages and emails from an older DTP to a young account executive.

– Female, 35-44

Women, ethnic minorities and LGBT+ employees are more likely to have experienced inappropriate behavior.

As an LGBT+ employee I often think differently and I try not to be too stereotypical. Even though the majority thinks they are open-minded, the same stereotypical jokes and thoughts always pop up. I know this is not done with bad intentions, but hope to see a change some day.

– Gay, Non binary, 25-34

Leaders & Managers

Staff have good relationships with line managers.

Line managers could pay more attention to performance feedback and career progression.

Having to work too hard for too long without rest and with little appreciation from your superiors brings stress and discontent. Once this feeling arises, it’s hard to counter it. Even though you know you’re doing a good job.

– Female, Graphic Designer, 35-44
Do you currently have a mentor or had one in the past?
All Male Female
No, but I would like one
No, I haven’t thought about it
No, I don’t need a mentor

Those who have a mentor score much higher on opportunities for progression, engagement with their company and feeling valued.

Purposes & Values

55% feel their company has a purpose beyond making money. 1 out of 4 would recommend working in their company to other people.

Meaning over money.

– Senior Graphic Designer, Male

Flexible working

28% of the respondents get their best ideas in the office. Best ideas and work can happen anywhere.

Where do you get your best ideas?
Anywhere 36%
In the office 28%
At home 15%
Outdoors 5%
On my commute 11%
In a coffeeshop 5%

Only 14% doesn’t want to work flexibly.

Almost 3 in 5 say their company has a flexible working policy.

Senior staff are more likely to be working flexibly but employees at all levels would like to.

Have you ever requested flexibel working and has it been granted?
Junior Mid-level Senior
No formal request, it’s a given in our company
Yes, and it’s been granted
Yes, but it hasn’t been granted
No, I’ve never requested but would like to
No, I’ve never requested and don’t want to

Who | Culture | People | Equality | What’s next?


82% say they regularly work overtime. The figure rises to 91% for senior-level staff. A third of overtime workers would rather be doing something else.

Do you regularly work more than your contracted hours?
Yes, but I’d rather be doing something else
Yes, but I don’t mind
No, I don’t
Not sure

73% say they feel stressed at work. This goes up to 82% of those who work in account management.

Overtime is directly related to stress.
Do you feel stressed at work?
Feel stressed Don’t feel stressed
Do you regularly work more than your contracted hours? Yes, but I’d rather be doing something else
Yes, but I don't mind

There is a culture of long hours and presenteeism. It is important that managers set a good example of work-life balance.

The focus is entirely on performance, sometimes at high cost. At the cost of people.

– Female, 25-34

Mental Health

Almost a quarter say they suffer from mental health issues. Levels are higher among those working in digital and advertising agencies, and among those working in strategic planning and copywriting.

Do you suffer from mental health issues?
Suffer from mental health issues (overall) 23%
Those working in Digital Agencies 30%
Those working in Strategic Planning 42%
Those working in Advertising Agencies 29%
Copywriters 36%

38% of employees feel there is awareness of mental health issues in their company.

In times where you hear so much about these issues and in a company where people work overtime this often, have strict deadlines and experience setbacks, etc... I find it incredible that we don’t speak about mental health more often, at least not in the context of the company.

– Male, 18-24

Parenting & Caring

Are you a parent or thinking of becoming a parent?
are parents
are thinking of becoming a parent one day
are not parents
are not sure

In general, parents score their agencies highly. Those who are thinking of becoming a parent are more worried about it.

The work pressure and tempo keeps me from having children even though I actually want them in the near future. I like working here, but it seems hard to combine.

– Female

Personal Growth

Less than half received training in the last year. Almost half who did not receive training do not know how to request it.

Did you receive any training last year?
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

When delivered effectively, there is a strong relationship between training satisfaction and overall job satisfaction.

If training were available, what would help you progress?
Tech/Digital/Innovation 51%
Leadership skills 44%
Pitching skills 42%
Presentation skills 35%

33% of women feel the need for stress management training vs. 6% of the men.

Invest more in personal development and growth within the company... There is a lack of perspective and after a number of years you reach the limit of possibilities and you are left to yourself to find the path you wish to take.

– Senior Executive, 25-34

Recruitment & Retention

60% feel that people are recruited into their company based on their skills, rather than personal characteristics or connections.

Almost a third of permanent employees plan to leave their agency within 2 years although many seem set on a longer career within their agency.

How long do you think you will stay with your industry?
5+ years 60%
3-4 years 9%
1-2 years 5%
Less than a year 1%
Don't know 25%

Almost a third of junior and mid-level employees are planning to leave their agency within the next 2 years but do seem set on a longer career within the industry.

There is still a culture of ‘the more time you spend behind your desk the better’, and people don’t always get appreciated for the effort they put in their work. The younger people accept this all too easily but then choose to leave the company rather than stay loyal.

– Female, 25-34

Retention depend 49% on leadership and management.

I would like to be part of a good, strong and ambitious team and above all have a mentor in my company.

– Junior Art Director

Who | Culture | People | Equality | What’s next?

Workforce composition

Men are twice more likely to be in senior roles than women.

Which best describes your current role level? % by gender.
Female Male
4% preferred not to answer 3% preferred not to answer

72% of respondents has a male line manager.

Creatives are most likely to have a male line manager.

What gender is your line manager?
Female Male
Other departments

Equal Opportunity

Women and men are equally likely to say they are building a portfolio/CV they are proud of. It’s great to see gender equality across all categories of work.

Women were half as likely to have been promoted in the last year and 1 in 2 are not expecting a promotion.

When was your last promotion at this company?
Female Male
Less than a year ago
More than a year ago
I haven’t been promoted, expecting a promotion soon
I haven’t been promoted, and not expecting a promotion

Women were less likely to work on a new business pitch.

Has your work been entered into any awards?
Female Male
No, it’s been entered but didn’t win
No, it hasn’t been entered into any awards

Pay Equity

My pay is fair for my level, qualification, skills and experience.
of all employees agree

Ethnic minorities and LGBT+ employees score their agency lower on pay.

Who | Culture | People | Equality | What’s next?

Now that we have the data, we are ready to look forward. To shape what’s next together and welcome the future for us, our creative industries and you, our most valuable human capital.

More detailed results of our baseline measurement and some first solutions and action points can be found in a detailed report. We hope the insights will have a profound impact on our creative leaders and CEO’s. It’s a great time to start preparing agency life for the future with a strong and genuine understanding of what’s happening now.

Our first leadership conference CREATIVE VOICES: Inspiring change through Creative Leadership will bring some answers on March, 5th. Check out the line-up of keynotes and personal talks from international creative leaders in our industry on the website.

In 2020 Creative Belgium will also organize trainings on the following topics: boost leadership for future stars, welcome back returners and how to combat unconscious bias in the workplace. Please send us an email if you are interested in one of these trainings.

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