Creating meaningful change is something we all had to learn, strive for and embrace over the last year. The pandemic taught us adaptability and vigilance, remote working gave us flexibility, and strong calls for social justice and equality have tested our desire and ability to change.

Over the years, G&S has embraced diversity & inclusion through our Think Differently Together program. Since 2015, we have challenged the norms and changed perceptions of culture and acceptance through internal discussions and educational resources. But the events of 2020 cemented for us that to make a lasting impact, we had to push our boundaries farther, think bigger, provide tangible solutions, and take visible actions across several dimensions to tackle what is now diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In 2020 we formed the G&S DE&I Task Force, which is comprised of staff members that span all levels, races, ethnicities, gender, socio and economic backgrounds, and regional locations. Our team spent the last 12 months mapping out and executing what became our foundation to initiate systematic change. Members of the Task Force took a critical look at DE&I across seven pillars and developed a comprehensive plan to help transform the agency. We set realistic phased goals for each pillar and were able to weave DE&I into every aspect of our work - from diversity supplier programs to deeper and more frequent internal cultural discussions to revamping our recruitment process. The engagement of this team and our agency as a whole was significant and set the stage for meaningful action. Today, we uphold this commitment to make a meaningful change over time, hold ourselves accountable, and provide an annual update on our progress. Below, we are proud to report our strides as an agency and across our pillars in reaching these goals.

Where We Stand Today

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2020 Report Out

· Gender breakdown - Female: 73%; Male: 27%

· Total employees - Black:  12

· Total employees - Non-Black People of Color (POC):  10

· Executive-level roles*: white 100%; Black: 0%; Non-Black POC: 0%; Male 39%; Female 61%

· Shareholder only: white 100%; Black: 0%; Non-Black POC: 0%; Male 55%; Female 45%

2021 Report Out

· Gender breakdown -Female: 76%; Male: 24%

· Total employees - Black: 21

· Total employees - Non-Black People of Color (POC): 19

· Executive-level roles*: white 90%; Black: 7%; Non-Black POC: 3%; Male: 42%; Female: 58%

· Shareholder only: white 100%; Black: 0%; Non-Black POC: 0%; Male 55%; Female 45%​

*Executive-level roles represent director and above externally and VP and above internally.

While we are proud of our recruiting efforts' impact in welcoming diverse talent, we understand that there is more to be done, especially at our senior levels. Last year we stated a goal of increasing representation of POC and underrepresented communities in leadership to 16% by 2022 and have increased that population to 10% since 2020. Our team is currently working to further improve diversity within executive-level roles by the end of 2021. We will do so through external hiring and promotions.

Driving Change Across Our Pillars

For a deeper look into how we have activated change internally and externally, we are sharing topline updates from each pillar. These bullets do not represent an exhaustive list of the initiatives and impacts of each pillar team. But they will provide evidence of the commitment of our DE&I Task Force and many other agency team members in digging deep to help transform our community and culture over time.

 Shareholder Commitment & Engagement

  • Initiated DE&I-focused KPIs tied to shareholder bonus structure
  • Focused building DE&I across and into all core leadership areas of the agency
  • Established an ongoing study program – mandatory reading, podcasts, etc. and discussion
  • Scheduled quarterly DE&I meetings with Task Force members for updates

Education, Training & Empowerment

  • Secured full agency participation in two DE&I general training sessions with an outside partner, NOVA Collective
  • Developing new curriculum for manager-level DE&I training sessions

Communication & Engagement

  • Developed a Communications Manifesto and roadmap to guide how G&S addresses DE&I internally and externally
  • Activated a multi-faceted group (leadership, digital and DE&I Task Force) to review DE&I-related communications and social media materials

Recruitment, Retention & Representation

  • Eliminated prior hiring requirement for 2- or 4-year college degree
  • Initiated applicant demographics tracking by HR 
  • Updated promotion timing to when the employee is ready as opposed to an anniversary date
  • Removed one-way video interview portion of the recruitment process to avoid bias in the selection process
  • Updated Employee Handbook policies to further empower employees, to build a culture of inclusiveness and support retention efforts
  • Distributed religious and cultural holidays, dietary needs and social considerations to increase awareness and sensitivity

Policies & Practices

  • Reviewed and updated G&S Employee Handbook to:
    • Remove opportunities for bias in policy enforcement 
    • Increase inclusivity by broadening definitions of "family" under agency FMLA and bereavement policies – empowering employees to define what constitutes family for them
  • Conducted Pay Equity Analysis with a third party to ensure equitable pay for all employees from a DE&I perspective
  • Created a Diversity Supplier program to redirect agency spend for third party vendor needs to minority-owned businesses

Partnership & Advocacy

  • Launched partnerships with HBCUs including North Carolina Central University and Grambling State University as a way to support diverse talent, provide real-world training experiences and broaden the hiring options for students and G&S
  • Contributed to HBCU Resume Review

Measurement & Reporting

  • Developed and implemented an internal Diversity Dashboard to track key demographics of G&S staff past and present
  • Conducted annual DE&I Employee Survey

This work is a journey that is, by its nature, ongoing. There is no final "destination" when it comes to becoming more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and just. Our G&S team looks forward to continuing to report on our progress. And we welcome your feedback. Please feel free to share your thoughts at DEITaskForce@gscommunications.com.

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