The future is diverse

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Our lives are more connected and intertwined than ever before. Togetherness, inclusion, and emphasis on equality for all are paramount, and the workplace is no exception.

Although many organizations are championing inclusion and diversity in the workplace, the numbers show that only 11% of Creative Directors are female, less than 6% of the advertising industry is black, and the number is actually declining (Think with Google).

Promoting diversity in the workplace isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business. Diverse teams are proven to be more innovative and creative, not to mention the tangible financial benefits it brings. Despite the clear benefits, the industry still has a long way to go.

So what can you do to ensure you’re promoting diversity in your agency too?

Build a diverse team

The first step is to seek out different mindsets. To create advertising that resonates with the vast diversity in the marketplace, we need to seek out and hire talent that truly understands different cultures. So, we asked our partners how they ensure diversity in their agencies and found that 31% focus on embracing diverse voices and leadership. After all, agencies with diverse talent can generate around 30% higher revenue per employee (Deloitte Insights).

Diversity is not just about being colorblind or gender neutral – agencies need to start looking beyond educational backgrounds, age, and portfolios too. The focus should be on the raw talent in front of them instead.

It’s important to work on creating an industry that nurtures a culture of voice, where everyone feels comfortable speaking up. There’s little point in hiring diverse talent and then asking them to act like everyone else. By embracing different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, marketers are in a better position to gain valuable insights that can help them tell more inclusive stories.

The hiring process is just the beginning. Far too often the boardroom chairs are occupied by men, and we need to start asking what we can do to change that. It is on us to always ask questions and ensure that we are striving for equality for all, at all levels.

Culture of empathy, not sympathy

Inclusion and diversity have to be more than just a once-a-year initiative. Diversity is an action, but inclusivity is a culture, and an agency’s culture is shaped by the people at the top. It’s important to strive for diversity across all levels, especially leadership. Having different experiences and ideas in the room naturally leads to more creative and diverse solutions, and a culture of empathy and inclusion.

A culture of empathy is the ultimate goal, and the company’s culture is defined by its leadership. It is therefore paramount to have diverse leaders and mentors for people to turn to for guidance. Agencies must strive to create a sense of belonging and an environment where everyone feels comfortable. That’s the only way to truly embrace different ways of thinking, and understand the value of the insights that brings to the table.

Make diversity an integral part of your business and create actionable, good habits to harness the power of diversity. Make it a habit to show your employees you appreciate their efforts, and that their ideas are valued. This will help transform your workforce into an environment where everyone respects and appreciates the different styles, mindsets, and ideas. After all, a culture where diverse thinking is celebrated attracts talent, improves team morale and employee retention.

Tell relatable stories

We care about stories that represent who we are and where we come from more than ever before. 85% of women say that ads don’t represent their real lives because more often than not, they are portrayed in stereotypical roles. To create stories that tap into this underrepresented culture, agencies need to have a deeper understanding and empathy for the audiences they are trying to reach. Brands that represent different kinds of people in a realistic way can make meaningful connections with people that rarely feel a campaign has been made for them.

Hold yourself accountable

If truly multicultural marketing is our goal, agencies have to hold themselves accountable. As you continue to work towards a more inclusive culture, here are three tenets to help you stay on track:  

Commit – Diversity of talent must be at the core of everything you do. You must commit to striving for diversity every single day, and when your efforts fall short — ask why. Not only is diversity in the workplace a moral obligation, it also has immense economic value to businesses (McKinsey).

Measure – Data speaks louder than words, so be loud and proud about how diversity is making a positive difference in your agency. Once others see tangible proof and the impact diverse talent can have, they’ll follow suit.

Talk – Diversity must be at the core of every hiring decision. Keep the conversation going about your efforts across all levels, and keep asking if you’re hiring talent that will push your creative talent to the next level.

Most importantly, agencies must be upfront when they’ve made a mistake and learn from it. Diversity is more than just an HR function, so agencies must take time to analyze their mistakes, so they know what they need to do moving forward.

Marketers are in a unique position to reshape the way we think and create positive change. The change won’t happen overnight, but every little step towards where we want to be is a step in the right direction.

Check out the video below to find out what other steps you can take to begin your journey to a more inclusive and diverse agency culture.

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