G&S is pleased to share our annual update on our continued DE&I journey.

The most critical point to express is that our focus on cultivating diversity, equity and inclusion at G&S has not diminished. This remains a highly intentional priority.

One message heard many times among our colleagues (and particularly across our leadership) is that we do not intend to take our foot off the gas when it comes to creating a company that embraces meaningful diversity across our teams and cultivates a deeper sense of belonging, trust and mutual respect. This is our intention. Reporting on our progress both internally and externally is core to this commitment.

Maintaining focus can be difficult. It can be easy to allow the pressures of the “day-to-day” to divert an organization from investing in other efforts that really matter. At G&S, our goal is to help make DE&I a central part of that day-to-day.

Once there is recognition that DE&I is woven throughout every aspect of the organization, the next step is to tease out the barriers. This includes examining systems and processes, seeing entrenched ways of thinking with fresh eyes, recognizing bias, working to foster trust so everyone can speak more openly, and creating new tools and resources to help us advance DE&I in all we do.

Sharing Leadership: A Matrixed Approach to Advancing DE&I

This work at G&S is underpinned by a matrix of individuals and groups with responsibilities to help advance DE&I. They include:

    • Our Principals and Managing Directors – who must be accountable to and promote this work as leaders of the agency.
    • G&S DE&I Task Force – comprised of staff members who span levels, disciplines, races, ethnicities, locations and other points of identity, and who collaborate to lead the work of our seven pillars listed below.
    • TDT Teams – our office-based Think Differently Together teams who create intersectional spaces for discussion, exploration, celebration and courageous conversations.
    • HR, Growth, Administrative, Operations and other teams who lend critical insights and capabilities, and are key to ensuring good ideas are executed.

We firmly believe no one individual or group can be solely responsible for advancing DE&I in an organization. The past two years have demonstrated that in order to build a sustained DE&I program, both top-down and bottom-up engagement are imperative.

G&S Today – Our Metrics

We are seeing continued progress in recruitment relative to welcoming a broad range of diverse talent to G&S. This includes a key focus on the more senior levels of the firm. In 2020, we set a goal of increasing representation of people of color (POC) and underrepresented communities in leadership* to 16% by 2022. That number reached 12% at the mid-point of 2022 (the timeframe in which we pull our annual diversity metrics**). This is still short of our goal but demonstrates continued growth from 0% in 2020 and 10% in 2021.

In terms of our total staff, at the mid-point of 2022, 27% identified as Black or Non-Black People of Color (based on self-reporting). This is up from 15% as measured in 2020.

Our core reporting metrics are included in the following series of animated charts, showing the change from 2020 to 2022.
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* Executive-level roles in the corresponding chart represent titles of Director and above

** Any staffing changes occurring since July 1, 2022, are not reflected in this data and will be captured in future reporting

DE&I Task Force Pillars – Updates on Key Accomplishments

As in 2021, we want to offer a deeper look into our efforts via the work of the seven pillars of our DE&I Task Force. The bullet points below are not exhaustive of each pillar team’s initiatives and impacts. But they provide tangible points of engagement, progress and action that are making a difference across our organization.

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    • Continued commitment to making DE&I a core part of KPIs and how personal performance is evaluated.
    • Actively worked to build DE&I lens and activation across all core areas of the agency.
    • Participated in ongoing study/self-education program including readings and group discussion on topics including systemic racism, building a culture of belonging and how we can help advance DE&I efforts of G&S clients.
    • Held quarterly Principal/MD meetings solely focused on DE&I, welcoming Task Force members for updates and discussions.
    • Participated in advanced DE&I-focused leadership training including the PR Council CEO Discussion Series and six-month Take Your Seat Inclusive Leadership Series.
    • Continued active participation and leadership with communications and DE&I industry organizations to contribute to progress across our industry.

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    • Continued training development work with outside partner, NOVA Collective.
    • Finalized curriculum / focus areas for two new manager-level DE&I training sessions; conducted both sessions with nearly all staff at G&S who manage others.
    • Identified respected resource for active bystander training and began offering sessions in each office; all trainings to be completed by EOY 2022.
    • Began investigating other modes and channels for learning, with the goal of offering both formal and informal DE&I-focused education and training engagement.
    • Worked to nurture greater sense of curiosity among G&S staff members about DE&I-related issues and provide tools and resources for self-learning and exploration.
    • Began development of new G&S training roadmap to clarify and outline overall agency training goals and help employees benchmark their DE&I progress and learning milestones.

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    • Further refined processes for sourcing, developing and publishing meaningful content connected with diversity, equity, inclusion and critical social issues for G&S internal and external channels.
    • Created opportunities for additional voices to contribute content and perspectives.
    • Collaborated with agency and office leadership to assess staff needs in the face of challenging social or world events, with a goal to communicate transparently, operate with empathy and help create spaces for conversation and connection.
    • Supported all pillars of the DE&I Task Force in communicating updates including through DE&I-focused Town Halls held at least two times per year.

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    • Helped check unconscious bias by eliminating video pre-interview process and making being on-camera optional for candidates in virtual interviews.
    • Established consistent protocols and intervention measures to allow HR to better monitor and detect bias during the hiring process and to disrupt it when necessary.
    • Removed college degree as requirement in the job application process; higher education also removed as a factor when considering other benefits like merit increases or promotions.
    • Created more level playing field for all candidates by revising interview evaluation forms to clearly define measuring points and to remind hiring managers to check their own biases; evaluation forms required to be submitted after all interviews.

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    • Received and reported on results from comprehensive pay equity analysis process with outside experts; confirmed no current inequities in G&S pay rates or compensation; set schedule to review pay equity every 6 months.
    • Made key changes to compensation practices/policies to mitigate risk of any potential pay inequities (formalized Compensation Committee, set common merit review dates, launched a defined bonus program, centralized performance evaluation process for determining merit increases).
    • Committed to increased transparency and communications around compensation practices including sharing salary bands for open roles.
    • Increased spending with diverse suppliers 28 percent year-over-year from calendar year 2020 to 2021.
    • Further updated G&S Employee Handbook with additional inclusive language and policies such as: expanding definitions of immediate and extended family; removing dress code requirements; asking job candidates to please include pronouns on all job applications; among other updates.
    • Distributing to our staff a more inclusive list of holidays and traditions and how they might be celebrated by employees, to raise awareness of different cultures within our organization.

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    • Continued partnerships with HBCUs including North Carolina Central University to support diverse talent, provide real-world training experiences and broaden the hiring options for students and G&S.
    • Hosted special in-office events to share career options at integrated marketing communications agencies, such as welcoming high school student participating in the Scripps Howard Elon LAGRANT Academy (SHELA) in partnership with Elon University.
    • Partnered with LAGRANT Foundation to underwrite a 2021 LAGRANT Summer intern at G&S.
    • Continued to actively support/participate in industry bodies working to make meaningful changes across the marketing communications industry, such as the Diversity Action Alliance and the PR Council.
    • Currently exploring new partnerships with groups focused on increasing diversity in such sectors as Digital and Tech.

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    • Continued to evolve G&S Diversity Dashboard to track key G&S staff demographics, past and present.
    • Conducted 2021 annual DE&I Employee Survey; analyzed results and presented to all staff at March 2022 DE&I Town Hall.
    • Worked with HR, Digital and Creative teams to prepare annual external reporting for Fall 2022.
    • Collaborating with Task Force pillar leads to identify meaningful KPIs.

A Work in Progress

As always, these efforts remain a work in progress. We welcome questions and feedback. We’re always eager to share our experiences with others, so we can learn in return. Please reach out to Anne Green (agreen@gscommunications.com) or Kate Threewitts (kthreewitts@gscommunications.com) in their role as advisors to our DE&I Task Force.

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