Gender Is Just One Dimension Of Diversity - She Runs It

Gender Is Just One Dimension Of Diversity

By Lynn Branigan

Some of the smartest, most socially conscious people in the world work in the marketing and media industry. Our businesses win when we create concepts and content that resonate with the global population. We have everything to gain by nurturing a work force that reflects the voice and face of all humans. Why then, do we continue to struggle as an industry to achieve meaningful inclusion and diversity in our workforce?

This is the question I was discussing with my friend Carol Watson from Diversity Best Practices one day over breakfast at Pershing Square this past summer. Even within my own organization – She Runs It – which exists to pave the way for more women to lead at every level of marketing and media, we find that our community is vastly under-indexing on women of color. And women who represent the LGBTQ community. And women from diverse walks of life.

We want to do better. Brilliant people have championed remarkable efforts to improve the situation. But year after year, decade after decade, the composition of our collective workforce remains static.

Why? We believe that true progress can only be realized when the pressure of measurement is applied. In an increasingly data-driven world, we need metrics to truly clarify where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going.

My breakfast conversation with Carol Watson, who is the Senior Director of Global Advisory and Consulting Services for Diversity Best Practices, sparked a conversation that has turned into a movement called the Inclusion and Diversity Accountability Consortium (IDAC). 

IDAC began as an idea in late July. In August, Carol and I met with Renetta McCann from Leo Burnett to get her reaction to the plan. Her immediate and positive response – not to mention advice – lit a flame that has only intensified. She, along with Andrew Swinand, CEO of Leo Burnett USA, gave Carol and I the early encouragement we needed to spread the word. Every subsequent conversation fueled the initiative with new energy and new advocates.

During Advertising Week in NYC (September), a group of about 20 marketing and media industry stakeholders gathered to help us shape and improve the concept. During October and November, IDAC began to gain momentum, and by December it was launched with 12 inaugural member companies: Blue 449, DigitasLBi, Estee Lauder, Inc., Fullscreen, GroupM, KBS, Leo Burnett, L’Oréal USA, Publicis Communications, SapientRazorfish, Starcom USA and Unilever.

Consortium companies commit to three priorities:

  • Measurement. Consortium members agree to participate in an annual benchmarking study – the DBP Inclusion Index, administered by Diversity Best Practices and the Working Mother Research Institute. This index allows corporate leaders to measure their own status and progress as it relates to achieving a more inclusive and diverse workforce.
  • Quarterly roundtable dialogue specifically organized to isolate and tear down the barriers that prevent meaningful progress. We are already in the planning stages for the Q1 2018 roundtable.
  • Practices and policies. Consortium companies are industry leaders when it comes to policies and practices designed to recruit, retain and advance diverse talent. All we ask is that they serve as beacons and examples for the industry by maintaining and accelerating their positive, internal efforts.


Some have asked me, “Why is She Runs It addressing such a broad issue as inclusion and diversity? Are you walking away from women?”

Absolutely not. We are aligning more closely than ever with women. All women.

Gender is a crucial aspect of diversity. We are delighted to join forces with marketing and media industry leaders and like-minded advocates who recognize that diversity and inclusion have many dimensions. By illuminating all we elevate all.