Over the past few months, the need for transformational social justice has become unequivocally clear. We have been listening. We have opened space for tough and meaningful conversations in our own organization. And we have looked introspectively at our numbers, our plans and our progress.
We’ve created a DE&I Task Force that includes Black and Non-Black People of Color, white people, members of our LGBTQ community and multiple levels of our agency teams to ensure all G&S groups have a voice. This team has collaborated in creating an action plan that we can all stand behind, which includes a pledge to release our DE&I data to advocacy groups and our industry as a whole.
G&S Business Communications strives to create a community of individuals that reflects the diversity of the world outside our agency. We firmly believe that diversity enhances innovation, creativity, productivity, market competitiveness and growth. Building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organization will benefit our people, our agency, our clients and our society.
Since establishing our organizational commitment to this area in 2015, we have made important progress. Yet we understand that to make meaningful change – not just for ourselves and among our business peers, but also in our communities – we must push further into tangible actions across a number of dimensions.
Today, we are sharing background on our work in this area to date, where we stand today (including key metrics on our staff make-up) and an overview of the actions we are taking to make measurable progress toward becoming a more diverse, equitable and inclusive agency.
We are holding ourselves accountable, and we ask that you hold us accountable, too.
Our DE&I Journey
G&S started in 2015 from a place of low diversity across the firm, aside from gender – though even this was still unbalanced at the senior-most levels.
Our work at that time began with leadership level commitment to helping our firm become more diverse as well as more inclusive.
From an inclusion standpoint, this started with the launch of our Think Differently Together (TDT) program. TDT ambassadors in each office collaborate with leadership to identify training opportunities, hold “table talks” on key issues, share education, convene book clubs or film screenings, create moments to openly discuss painful issues in society and current events, and build an intersectional space to come together as individuals.
We also altered our recruiting efforts and began to look closely at inclusion and belonging relative to retention.
Where We Stand Today
Over the past few years, G&S has started to move in the right direction:
We actively recruit from over 78 HBCUs and colleges and universities with significant Hispanic / Latino populations
In 2019, approximately 20% of our FTE hires were diverse (which rises to approximately 24% when you add our intern pool from 2019)
We have seen strong gains over five years in our annual employee benchmark survey around questions related to the role and importance of diversity, feeling of belonging, ability to bring one’s whole self to work, sense of equity, and related questions.
Our Shareholder group is now balanced from a female / male gender perspective.
However, our current staff make-up speaks to the work still to be done in fully diversifying our team at all levels, particularly senior leadership.
The current G&S team is comprised as follows*:
Overall agency breakdown: white: 85%; Black: 8%; Asian: 5%; Hispanic / Latinx: 2%; Two or More Races: Less than 1%
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 54%; Female 45%
* Source: Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) self-reporting by staff members
Our Action Plan to Drive Meaningful Change
Today, we have expanded our focus to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We were intentional in adding Equity alongside Diversity and Inclusion, given it demands a focus on understanding and addressing systemic or institutional barriers to fairness, and works to ensure fair treatment and access for all our people across every aspect of their life at G&S.
In June 2020, we convened a Task Force to refresh and refocus our approach across multiple pillars and needs.
The G&S Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Task Force is a cross office group established to shape diversity, equity & inclusion policy and enhance representation of Black, Non-Black POC and other marginalized groups across the agency and industry.
The Task Force is made up of Black and Non-Black POC, white people, members our LGBTQ community and multiple levels of our agency teams to ensure all G&S groups have a voice.
While this Task Force reports to our CEO, we are accountable to every G&S employee.
Our goal is to create a strong foundation for advancing DE&I and to ensure a welcoming and productive environment for every G&S employee, no matter their sex, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion, and one that encourages open dialogue, knowledge-sharing and growth.
The Task Force has collaborated in developing a multifaceted plan that is shaping goals and actions across seven areas. Below are those seven areas with examples of the actions we will be pursuing (Note: The below sub-bullets represent just a portion of our total plan).
Shareholder Commitment & Accountability
Develop specific KPIs for our shareholders (or owners / Principals)
Plan training and education series to expand knowledge base
Focus on building DE&I into core leadership areas of agency (i.e., Operations, HR, Growth, etc.)
Education, Training & Empowerment
Develop DE&I KPIs for all employees
Plan mandatory management leadership training
Develop DE&I training track in our learning platform, MyGSU
Give Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) a voice at our shareholder table
Communication & Engagement
Update DE&I mission and publicly state our commitment
Expand processes to communicate about all aspects of DE&I more transparently and actively
Work with our TDT teams to share updates and develop internal educational events that encourage engagement
Recruitment, Retention & Representation
Commit to increasing the representation of Black / Non-Black POC / LGBTQ employees at the senior leadership level (Director, VP, SVP) from 4% to 16% within the next two years
Extend recruiting efforts to a larger number of diverse colleges, universities and programs / groups within them
Anonymize employment applications and interviewing process
Enhance career pathing and succession planning with DE&I focus
Policies & Practices
Enhance agency procurement policies and vendor / partner diversity requirements; report on progress
Conduct internal pay equity analysis
Audit employee handbook for hidden biases and strengthen language where needed
Formalize a DE&I review panel to ensure G&S marketing materials represent our commitment, views and philosophies and stems the spread of stereotypes
Review agency approach to succession planning
Partnership & Advocacy
Encourage board & committee representation across diverse organizations
Sponsor external events and / or community-based initiatives
Commit to taking on pro bono Black or POC-owned / led community-based client(s) in 2021
Collaborate with G&S Growth Team to develop DE&I thought leadership program
Participate in panel discussions and speaking opportunities
Measurement & Reporting
Track and publicly report workforce diversity data