Over the past decade, significant improvements have been made in building a more diverse workforce across the digital advertising industry. Furthermore, organisations such as Bloom and MEFA have provided companies and individuals with numerous opportunities to collaborate and help underrepresented talent thrive.

Today, we need to continue to progress the conversation. We need to have a cohesive strategy that addresses how we ensure that we have a culture of belonging that delivers across personal, professional, and business priorities. 

What does DE&I mean to you today?

When we think of DE&I (diversity, equality, and inclusion) in the context of the workplace, the goal is to create environments in which we embrace uniqueness and create fair, accessible opportunities for everyone, free of judgement. In reality, the concept of DE&I is much more than that. It means recognising that we do not all start from the same place and acknowledging and making adjustments to imbalances. This is ‘equity’. It is an ongoing process, requiring us to identify and overcome intentional and unintentional barriers arising from bias or systemic structures.

How can we push the conversation forward?

Every effort taken towards creating equity starts with someone who has an idea, shares that idea, and receives support for implementing it. Creating an environment in which people feel they are able to speak freely and articulate their ideas is vital to pushing the conversation forward. This is the only way that we as companies or individuals can understand where our areas of weakness are and what we can do to improve. 

Understanding that differences matter and making sure we accommodate everyone is what creates a powerful feeling and culture of belonging.  

Measurable progress

As the saying goes - you don’t know what you don’t know. This makes measurement key to ensuring progress. Some aspects of DE&I are easier to report on than others and while it may take time to fully implement robust measurement procedures and processes, keep in mind that embracing diversity in any dimension fosters more diversity in other areas, so don’t give up on something just because you can’t measure it. 

The first step towards meaningful measurement is to identify the metrics best suited to tracking progress against your goals and the processes you’re going to use to gather the data. There should be a process for tracking this on an ongoing basis in a consistent way, company-wide. This enables you to understand how your employees feel about DE&I issues, policies, initiatives etc. 

The second – but equally important – process to put in place is to measure how employees feel about DE&I when leaving a company. Rolling out a consistent approach to addressing any issues with DE&I that may have contributed to an employee leaving creates a platform from which to initiate change. When doing this, it’s important to focus on inclusion and culture - did people feel welcome, safe, heard, and able to challenge situations without retribution? Sometimes the simplest questions yield the greatest insights. 

Building trust

Every person in every team all around the world has the potential to drive positive change in DE&I, but in order to realise the full potential of the workforce you need to have trust. And to have trust, you need to have transparency at the heart of everything you do and a culture that brings life to your change agenda. 

With DE&I now something that everyone is invested in - not a corporate tick-box exercise - empowerment at all levels is key. To drive empowerment you must invest in education and training from the grassroots of your organisation all the way to senior leadership and board level. By empowering managers, you bring new views to the foreground and create more openness in discussions that are had between employees and leadership. This is a concept that goes beyond making conversations about DE&I more prevalent and extends to constant evolution, listening, action, and personal and business accountability. 

Finally, to continue to drive improvement we need to make sure that, as companies and individuals, we’re only supporting and partnering with organisations that enable us to drive the change we strive to achieve.