One year ago, we re-committed to making Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion a central tenant of our culture here at KSM. Celebrating these focus areas has always been important to the entire KSM community, and it’s been both refreshing and energizing to see the additional efforts that have been put forth over the past 12 months. Today, we’d like to share some highlights of that work, and how we’ll continue moving it forward.

Our Actions:

Strengthening Connections: We launched early recruitment programs in both Texas and Chicago, aimed at getting young people of diverse backgrounds excited about the advertising and media industries. We also expanded our active hiring outreach by forming better relationships with HBCUs and testing the new Hue job board.

Cultivating Open Dialogue: We dove into the “Justice In June” programming with agency-wide readings and conversations led by VP, Integrated Planning Sam Abrams. Participants discussed ways to encourage awareness, understanding, and change in our communities. Quarterly watch-and-learns, followed by small-group discussions, continue this practice.

Expanding Governance: We re-emphasized existing agency policies and practices, like inclusion and anti-bias training for current staff, and added an unconscious bias learning requirement for all hires. We also rolled out a new “Diversity & Inclusion Policy” which is designed to ensure we’re going above and beyond the traditional non-harassment policy to embrace what makes us unique by celebrating respectful communication and the representation of all voices.

Pushing Industry Change: We continued our work with the 4As, which includes serving as a member of their DE&I sub-committee, and carried forward with our participation in the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program for a fifth consecutive year.

Prioritizing Feedback: We conducted our bi-annual DEI survey to ensure continued accountability and identify the ongoing needs of our community.

The Road Ahead:

Closing the Gap: 88% of KSMers believe KSM is fostering a diverse and inclusive environment. Obviously, we’d like this number (and all our metrics) to be at 100%. We’ll continue to update and improve upon our programming and policies, and continue to listen to our community when they bring forward a need.

Addressing Additional Biases: When asked to agree or disagree with the statement “[group] is valued equally at KSM,” we’re pleased to report that Sexuality, Race, Religion, Gender, and Gender Identity all saw agreement (or neutral) rates at 97% or above. However, only 79% of employees agreed (or were neutral) that all ages at KSM are valued equally; a problem that is rampant in the advertising industry as a whole, and one we will be addressing going forward.

Expanding Industry Involvement: Listing to our current community’s feedback is necessary, but it doesn’t go far enough. That’s why we’ll continue attending and playing active roles in committees and discussions focusing on the issue of DEI in the advertising industry, to both keep a pulse on, and help shape, where our industry is right now and where it should be going.

It is our commitment to continue doubling down on the internal and external outreach, recruitment, and policy initiatives laid out above. As we said before, these actions are not fleeting or one-time solves. The list above is not comprehensive, but we hope it serves as a transparent update on our ongoing commitment to creating a more equal, diverse, and inclusive future for all in the advertising industry.

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