A New Creative Strategy for Achieving Agency Diversity

Typical diversity initiatives aren’t effective in agencies, because agencies aren’t typical businesses.

It’s going to take some powerful creative thinking to revamp the ad industry’s image as a bunch of misogynistic mad men who like to believe women have no vertical ambition. Typical diversity initiatives aren’t effective in agencies, because agencies aren’t typical businesses. We need a much more strategic and creative solution than the one-size-fits-all diversity approaches proliferating.

There is no document more critical to the craft of great advertising than the creative brief. So here’s one to inspire breakthrough creative ideas for the diversity issues facing us.

OBJECTIVE: Simply hiring more women and minorities may improve how account and creative teams look, but it won’t necessarily improve how they perform. Agency business is more demanding than ever. As pressures mount, our diversity objectives have to include enhancing agency performance, too.

TARGET: The talent we want to hire and the talent we want to retain. The clients we serve, the brands we build. The consumers who see our messages. The investors who fund our work. The whole freaking world. We are a visible, vocal and influential industry. We have to take the mantle of our position seriously.

KEY MESSAGE: It’s not just diversity for diversity’s sake anymore. The outcome of a successful diversity initiative is a highly functioning, expertly performing team with complementary perspectives, capabilities, race, creed, color, and gender. By first identifying and then leveraging our unique strengths, we will improve our ideas, enhance our working relationships, and increase our business results.

POINT OF DIFFERENCE: Stop framing the diversity problem as simply a gender or race issue, and instead frame it as an optimization challenge. Do not invest time in workshops that overly define the psychology of biases or indulge in learning about personalities. Instead, let’s rethink how agency talent can sustainably manage the complex layers of their own beliefs and professional relationships; how they can use bias as a tool. Focus on solving diversity within the precise performance and productivity needs unique to the agency business. And tap into the power we have to positively impact our target audiences with every brand message.

REASON TO BELIEVE: Experts have identified 9 interrelated factors that underpin fairness for everybody. By enhancing these factors, team performance measurably increases. The new agency culture will encourage every team member to ‘lean on’ each other for optimal performance and for greater well-being.

PERSONALITY: Innovative. Respectful. Sincere. Fair. Driven.

EXECUTIONAL MANDATORIES: The language around diversity is emotionally charged. Our response must be sensitive to the concerns of the individuals on the team. It must align diversity objectives with performance objectives. As our teams begin to diversify, we have to shift the cultural style of the agency to welcome them, value them, and keep them engaged.

TIMELINE: Now.


Originally published at mediapost.com

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