Calling All Kinds: A Conversation on Diversity

Posted by Sheerah Davis on October 12, 2015

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Diversity in the workplace seems to be a trait that businesses and corporations would naturally strive to accomplish, right? It just makes sense. A diverse group of people brings diverse opinions and experiences, creating a well-rounded and unique team. Most companies have statements pledging to hire a variety of races, genders, ages, backgrounds and cultures. And that’s a great start, but there is always more that can be done.

Despite some great strides, diversity is still a major issue in the United States. For instance, a McKinsey study found that women make up only 14 percent of executive committees on corporate boards in the Fortune 500, and soon, not even 1 percent of Fortune 500 Companies will have black CEOs. Those are just 2 statistics of many that indicate how diversity is still needed in corporate America.

The communication industry reflects the same concerns and understands the need to make changes. According to Nancy Hill, president of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), the advertising/marketing world is historically lacking a diverse workforce. She says there isn’t a root cause for the deficiency, but stresses that agencies need to start having the difficult conversations in order to take on the issue.

At Mitchell, we work effectively with all races, nationalities, cultures, abilities, ages and genders. And we work hard to promote equal and fair treatment and opportunity for all. To back up our commitment, we have implemented programs like Big Break: Discovering Diverse Talent and adhere to the following three best practices to help us in recruiting and retaining an eclectic group of people.

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Determine your company’s goals and vision, then assess your workforce to see where you stand. What and who do you need to create a more diverse culture? And this isn’t a question you ask only once. This needs to be visited and revisited again to ensure that as the company changes, these needs are always being met.

Be sure to think of diversity from the standpoint of a person’s whole self. Look beyond race, age, gender, culture and get to qualities of people, regardless of what they look like on the outside.

Laura Cox Kaplan, regulatory affairs and public policy leader at PwC, says, “The strongest teams are those that are diverse even beyond race and gender — teams whose individual members bring varying perspectives that culminate from both professional and life experiences.”

Diverse employees mean assorted values, opinions and backgrounds. Diversity not only exposes our team to experiences beyond their own, but also gives our agency a broad range of ways to relate to consumers.

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Once you know where the company needs to develop, you can better target your recruitment efforts. As an example, if the majority of people in your company graduated from the same university, you know to expand your efforts to schools outside of your area to bring on a new perspective.

Once you’ve hired talent, you need to keep your recruits engaged and assess the quality of their time at the company. Bringing diverse talent on board is more than checking a box. You have to create a culture of acceptance, which leads to the third step.

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Leadership needs to be onboard so they can create and nurture a culture that’s accepting of a diverse workforce. It’s important to establish values and core competencies that align with a vision of diversity. Leadership can also establish training programs that educate employees on diversity and inclusion.

At Mitchell, we are committed to diversity and inclusion. We were a certified women-owned organization by Women’s Business Enterprise National Council until the sale of the company in 2013. And today, the agency is women-led by Elise Mitchell, CEO, and Sarah Clark, president. Not only do we take the issue seriously, but diversity is listed as one of our core competencies required by all employees.

At Mitchell, we’re always striving to improve. We don’t have all the answers, but are actively trying to be a part of the solution and the conversation. What programs and best practices do you or your company implement to ensure a diverse workforce?

Topics: Diversity