Are we there yet? She Runs It's Lynn Branigan steps in

Every week, we ask industry insiders across all job levels and titles to share personal stories about equality, diversity and inclusion in adland. We know we're not there yet, but we want to document the highs and lows as the industry slowly transforms for the better.

Lynn Branigan
President
She Runs It

Tell us about one thing that’s happened recently that leads you to believe there’s still a problem.

I was recently told by a woman of color in our industry that "hopeful" is a bad word. I was so struck by the meaning of her comment. Diversity in our industry has been talked about and pursued for decades, but I don’t think we’ve made any meaningful progress in the past 100 years.

I believe true progress can only be realized when the pressure of measurement and real, undeniable numbers is applied. In an increasingly data-driven world, we need metrics to truly clarify where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, so at the end of 2017, we launched the Inclusion and Diversity Accountability Consortium (IDAC).

IDAC participation is free, and the data is private and anonymous, yet only about 20 brave and determined companies have signed up so far. It’s surprising to me, because we can’t really improve the numbers until we know exactly what they are.

When I was explaining the consortium and the index to the colleague I mentioned above, I said that I was hopeful about the outcome of IDAC measurement, actions and roundtable discussions. She advised me not to use the word hopeful at a multicultural event. She said hope is not credible.


How about something that proves we’re making progress?

The flip side of this story is that, while there are only about 20 corporate members of IDAC, the consortium includes major marketers like Diageo, Estee Lauder, Kellogg’s, L’Oreal and Unilever. Twitter is a member, as are about a dozen marketing and media agencies. We have remarkable support from industry organizations like 4As, IAB and Ad Council. The first benchmarking index has been completed and we are going to host a summit later this year to shed light on the results, as well as the actions our members are taking to break down the barriers to inclusion and diversity.


What else needs to be done to get there?

In addition to the DPB Index, IDAC members commit to activating corporate practices and policies that champion and nurture inclusion. They also participate in roundtables discussions which we are hosting around the country. We hosted one in New York, another in Chicago. LA is next. The candor of the dialogue is just incredible. People share ideas and best practices and I’ve been astounded at how eager participants are to learn from each other and take new ideas back to their leadership. I am determined -- dare I say hopeful? -- that we can reach a tipping point and others will see the value of participation and measurement. More than anything else, we need metrics. That is the fuel for real change.

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