Let’s Keep Our Foot on the Gas on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

By Kumi Croom, Managing Director, Duncan Channon

This summer, the 4A’s put out a widely read (and covered) report that despite all the discussion about diversity, the industry hasn’t made much progress. The industry seems to be waffling as it pertains to EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) efforts and while we talk about it at leadership conferences and on an annual basis during Black History Month and other celebrated moments, most of us are not making EDI an industry priority.  And we aren’t keeping promises we made to ourselves and the next generation of talent.

The number of leadership roles being filled by BIPOC talent is actually decreasing and all the words in the world won’t help. Here are ten actions that our agency has found effective in keeping our EDI efforts moving forward.

  1. Examine your talent, client work and culture and be honest about where you are and where you want to be in both the short- and long-term.
  2.  Set a EDI Statement of Intent. Involve the leadership team (including HR) in creating it and share it in a compelling way with your employees. Make EDI a non-optional part of agency KPIs. Structure performance reviews to be more equitable, empathic and helpful for growth and development.
  3.  Ask your team what is most important to them when it comes to EDI and include it where possible in your company’s goals.
  4.  Be sure the in-house and external recruiters are casting a wide net to ensure candidates are coming from various backgrounds and cultures. Train them if needed.
  5.  Create a regular enrichment learning series that includes guest speakers and content sharing sessions about culture. Focus on staff development with training on themes such as unconscious racial bias, incorporating racial equity, accessibility and empathy.
  6.  Do not wait for an annual performance review to have important EDI conversations.  Hold them every quarter or six months. People feel more engaged with consistent and actionable feedback.
  7.  Expand diversity in your production efforts by using programs like Free the Work and hire production companies and teams that emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion.
  8. Participate with programs like MAIP or BLAC Internship to be sure diversity starts with the younger generations who have shown an interest in the industry. And, where possible, speak with classrooms at the college or even high school level to spread your passion and excitement to students studying advertising and marketing.
  9. Never stop improving. Even when you think there are enough programs focused on EDI, listen to your team, and implement new, better and different ideas.
  10.  Finally, commit to efforts including exposing your staff to other areas of EDI where you may not have focused before such as disability awareness and inclusion as well as pushing to include people with disabilities in your work.

I would be the first to say that our agency’s work is far from finished, but we are committed to making strides every day. Because, as an industry, we are not yet seeing the reality reflect the rhetoric. Changing an industry is hard work. So, let’s keep our foot on the gas. Let’s not get discouraged. And let’s not get distracted by work-from-home discussions, or AI or whatever the hot topic of the day is. Together we can do this. We promised. Remember?

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