Accelerating the Movement to Increased Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity in Marketing

Diversity, Equity & Inclusiity

By: John Wallace        September 24th, 2021        6 minute reading

Nearly 70% of companies in the Russell 1000 release no data on the racial and ethnic makeup of their workforce, per JUST Capital.

The racial landscape, particularly in the U.S., is changing and what we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg. No doubt, 2020 was an inflection point for companies in their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) – certainly with their employee base, but also throughout their network of partners and vendors including their marketing supply chain. While some companies began raising awareness long before others (remember United Colors of Benetton adverts from the 80’s?), recently a number of major brands have publicly adopted a more aggressive stance towards substantial and sustainable changes in the field of marketing with respect to DEI including: Coca-Cola, McDonalds, and GM. Brands like these are embracing accountability and transparency while expecting their agencies to do the same.

USA Today Quote

But it is not just the faces in front of the camera that matter. It is every creative voice – directors, editors, and photographers – that must be heard in this new movement.

Fairness Requires Access to Data

Saying “we are going to double our spend on minority-owned production by 2030,” makes for a great soundbite in someone’s news feed. But as with most things, it is much easier said than done.

Here's how one forward thinking company is doing it.

As one of the world’s largest advertisers, Procter & Gamble works with hundreds of agencies to create and deliver their brand marketing. In 2012, they started a group-wide efficiency drive to transition away from wasteful mass marketing to targeted engagements by using data and technology. A key area of focus was reinventing agency partnerships to not only improve P&G’s access into the media supply chain, but also ensure a fair and transparent bidding process for agencies and vendors. This effort includes measuring progress toward their global initiative to advance gender equality across the organization: increasing the number of female directors of commercials to 50 percent and ensuring female directors are included on any projects that are put out for bid. With agencies managing the entire production spend, however, P&G had limited visibility into how their partners were managing their creative supply chain - distributing RFPs, reviewing bids, and selecting vendors on their behalf. In addition P&G’s procurement and purchasing departments relied on a manual process of parsing through emails and spreadsheets to evaluate if the bidding process is accurate and if they are meeting their gender diversity goals.

Measurable Results with Transparency

In 2018 P&G partnered with Octerra to create a bid management tool that has transformed this highly transactional process, moving it into a centralized and unified platform where all matters related to the process are visible. This enhanced visibility is valuable on a number of levels — one of the key benefits being the ability for P&G to ensure their agency partners’ deliver bid access to a diverse and inclusive vendor pool. With a commitment to gender diversity, Procter & Gamble can now measure with certainty, in one place, if all projects include bids by female directors. Further, they can view project data to ensure that females are directing at least half of their productions, part of their public commitment.

What About Agencies? Agencies Got Game Too

Brands and clients aren’t the only ones who benefit from such a platform. Now more than ever, agencies are called on to deliver a diverse supply chain for their clients, and they need a way to ensure that it’s happening. I recently spoke with the head of production for a major agency who was asked by his client how well the agency was doing in terms of delivering on their promise of to bid a certain percentage of their jobs to a diverse set of directors. He had a week to let them know. The request sent him and his team head long into a massive fire-drill with all of his agency producers going back through their emails and project files to count them manually. It took days of multiple people’s time to go back, count, and generate a report that by his own admission, might not have been 100% accurate. My response to him was that if he and his team had been running everything on Octerra, he would have been able to get all of that information (and more) with the click of a button, on-demand. Instantly.

Managing their clients’ pass-through production through a centralized, common platform gives an agency much better visibility into and control over its own business performance. Using Octerra, an agency is able to work more efficiently and collaborate more effectively while bringing innovation to its clients, improving its level of service, building trust, and ultimately strengthening relationships across the board.

Entrepreneur QuoteIt’s Time to Punch the Accelerator (or Make the Jump to Lightspeed)

Although it is encouraging to see the progress so far with respect to DEI, our ecosystem still has a long way to go. For every P&G, there are many other brands (and agencies) still trying to figure it out. The American Marketing Association (AMA) has created it’s own DEI Task Force to assist with resources and training for companies looking to kickstart their program, which I highly recommend checking out.

The rhetoric for all marketers must turn into action for the tide to truly shift. We’d love to hear from brands and agencies that are interested in advancing this conversation. Octerra is the leading solution for companies looking to measure, track and report on their DEI initiatives.

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By John Wallace


John's deep background in production and technology is the foundation for his current role as President of Octerra. With 12+ years of combined experience as Head of Production at StudioNow and AOL, he has created video content alongside some of the world's top brands & agencies.

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