She Runs It Launches Consortium To Quantify Diversity And Inclusion In Marketing And Media Industry - She Runs It

She Runs It Launches Consortium To Quantify Diversity And Inclusion In Marketing And Media Industry

By She Runs It

By, Jennifer Rooney

This article was originally published in Forbes on 12/13/17

At a time when diversity and inclusion initiatives have only become a bigger priority in the marketing and media industry, led in part by prominent CMOs who are lending their voices to myriad efforts, She Runs It, a not-for-profit organization that aims to pave the way for women leaders in marketing and media, today introduces a consortium designed to “solve for inclusion and diversity in marketing and media”–with measurement.

Called the Inclusion and Diversity Accountability Consortium (IDAC), it launches in collaboration with Diversity Best Practices and is based on the premise that “what gets measured, gets done.” The initiative is rooted in a drive to quantify success in diversity and inclusion in the marketing and media industry.

Initial participants include Blue 449, DigitasLBi, Estee Lauder, Fullscreen, GroupM, KBS, Leo Burnett, L’Oreal USA, Publicis Communications, SapientRazorfish, Starcom USA and Unilever.

“The desire and intention to solve for diversity and inclusion in this industry is sincere across all stakeholders, but companies struggle to make meaningful progress,” said Lynn Branigan, president and CEO of She Runs It, in a statement. “Even across our own [She Runs It] community I am aware that we need to champion a more diverse population and move beyond a single dimension of diversity as it relates to gender. We believe this initiative is additive to others, and that the actions required of consortium participants will move us from preaching to practice to progress as we isolate and attack the obstacles that have made true diversity elusive for our industry.”

Consortium participants must commit to three key actions: They must take part in an annual benchmarking study called the DBP Inclusion Index, which seeks to identify areas of opportunity for diversity and inclusion efforts within companies; they must have executive presence at quarterly roundtable discussions designed to share best practices; and they must implement or maintain initiatives specific to each company in fostering diverse talent and building inclusive cultures.

“The advertising and marketing industries would significantly benefit by ensuring that their cultures are inclusive and their employee base is diverse and representative of the growing and changing marketplace and consumer base,” said Deborah Munster, executive director for Diversity Best Practices, in a statement.

“Creativity and innovation thrive when different perspectives, disciplines and experiences are recognized, respected and cultivated,” added Marilu Marshall, senior VP, executive management, chief inclusion and diversity officer at Estee Lauder. “As a global consumer-facing company, with diverse employees, brands and products, we continue to prioritize these values in all that we do and are proud to be a part of the Inclusion and Diversity Accountability Consortium.”

Mike Densmore, president of KBS New York, acknowledged the depth of the challenge the industry faces. “Everyone in advertising knows the lack of diversity within our industry doesn’t properly represent the realities of the world we live in, and this issue needs to be addressed with tangible action in order for things to change,” he said. “And there’s no question industry leaders agree that this is a social issue they strongly believe needs to be fixed. The problem is most people are viewing it incorrectly. Diversity is much greater than just a social issue: it’s actually a productivity and economic issue. There are multiple studies that prove the companies with the most diverse talent base thrive the most from an employee satisfaction standpoint as well as bottom-line growth.”

Indeed, as the focus on diversity and inclusion continues to sharpen across the industry, the coalition will both add to and benefit from parallel efforts.

“Our organization, and indeed the entire industry, has been looking to make meaningful change happen for decades,” Branigan said. “It’s clear that no one effort is going to get the job done. We look at this as an industry-wide platform that provides a tool for media and marketing companies to measure and track progress. We believe that every initiative is additive, and we celebrate all of the individuals and groups who want to join our consortium or wave similar flags.”