How Dentsu Canada is building a more inclusive advertising industry

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Consumers increasingly expect brands and organizations to promote inclusivity, both front and backstage. For marketing companies where storytelling is at the heart of their business, striving to better represent the world accurately is especially critical.

Jeff Greenspoon is President Solutions, Americas and CEO of dentsu Canada, one of the largest global networks of marketing and advertising agencies in the world. He described how the company is committed to creating and sustaining a culture of inclusive and diverse thinking across the organization.

In a time of rapid digital transformation, part of the company’s job is to help companies normalize their data in a way they can use it, Greenspoon said. According to him, while distinct cultures tend to consume and converse in the same way, brands should, more importantly, care about different spheres of influence.

“There’s been a lot of focus on getting personally identifiable information, which is important to ingest, but when you start acting on it, what becomes more important are trends across larger cohorts,” did he declare. “We try to help customers impartial their data by not looking at it based on gender, race, religion or place of origin, but rather by looking at the actions people take – What are they buying? What do they care about and who do they associate with?

In order to successfully help its myriad of clients and their customers, the company has recognized that it must first look inward to be able to properly serve the communities it intends to target. So she rolled out a company-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy, starting with transparency and accountability.

“We did a very broad and in-depth exercise on education and lifelong learning,” Greenspoon said. “We started looking at how different types of people are represented and sponsored by our organization.”

Different cohorts have been created to bring together employees from all levels of the organization to learn about a range of topics, including inclusive leadership and how to build sustainable structures that attract, retain and promote. diverse talents.

Marème Touré is Densu Canada’s first Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She led the team that launched the Anti-Racism Action Plan which aims to embed an anti-racism culture in the company through strategic partnerships. The action plan is divided into five pillars that touch on: transparency and accountability, data collection and monitoring, promoting understanding and awareness of BIPOC communities, ongoing education on actions and resources anti-racism, advocacy and sponsorship, and positive community. and the impact on customers.

To really understand what was happening within the company, Touré shared that they had set up listening circles – safe spaces where employees were encouraged to share their authentic experiences and what was important to them. to facilitate the difficult conversations needed to help everyone feel seen, heard, and valued.

“What’s been exciting is seeing the different business resources start to form in response to that,” Toure said. “Some of the information we gathered was really valuable in laying the groundwork for our next steps in building our [DEI] strategy.”

From these circles emerged several additional focus groups for company employees, such as a pride group for LGBTQ+ people or the corporate response group for parents, according to Touré.

“We try to give a choice where people can choose themselves to register, for example, conversations for black employees, for indigenous people or that relate to leadership,” she said. “It made it possible to build dialogues that were safer and where people could really exchange.”

“We have groups dedicated to black employees, but we also talk about other things that affect them, and so we’re starting to see intersectional trends very, very early on,” Greenspoon added.

The agency has partnered with Black North Initiative, a pledge created by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism, to help address anti-Black systemic racism in Canadian businesses.

“Everything we’ve learned is available to our customers and the industry as a whole, as our goal is to help everyone be more diverse, inclusive and fair,” Greenspoon said.

Stephanie Ricci contributed to this story.

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