Will brands make progress on diversity and inclusion in 2018?

Will 2018 be a strong year for more inclusion at brands?

Advertisers have more than brand safety, transparency, and ad fraud on their minds in 2018. To attract and retain top talent, and better connect with consumers, leading brands are pushing hard on inclusion, pay equity, and diversity (racial/gender/age). The majority of consumers feel executives should take a stand on social issues, and 44% of them will purchase more from brands who do.

A more inclusive, diverse, and equal work environment has massive financial implications. Companies in the top quartile for gender and ethnic diversity have been proven to be more likely to outperform their peers — and this is especially true of companies with diverse executive boards. They can realize improvements of 53% return on equity.

Despite the social, consumer, and financial benefits of a more inclusive, diverse, and equal corporate culture, there has been little progress in many of these areas. Today, only a handful of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, and studies have shown that applicants with African-American sounding names are less likely to get a callback. Things are improving, however, thanks in part to newer organizations that champion specific causes, such as Out in Tech, Girls Who Code, and The Hidden Genius Project.

Additionally, major brands such as P&G, Target, and Clorox are making diversity, inclusion, and equality centerpieces to their corporate culture, impacting everything from recruiting, marketing, training, and everything in between.

Jun Group, in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers, sat down with four leading CMOs from Target, Village Farms, The Clorox Company, and Combe Incorporated to find out how these iconic brands are tackling massive organizational change in 2018.

Eric Reynolds, chief marketing officer, The Clorox Company

"What we want is a team that’s as diverse as the consumers we’re trying to serve. That could be gender, it could be ethnicity, it could be income, it could be political. We think that makes for a really robust conversation that leads to great brands. Our talent acquisition costs have gone up many, many times. But we see the return because we see longer retention. And it just shows up in the brand building, because fundamentally the teams are diverse."

Kristi Argyilan, senior vice president, media and guest engagement, Target

"Out of all the companies I’ve worked at, this is the most female company. We have a huge number of women represented on our board of directors and on the leadership team. Fifty-seven percent of my team is female. One of the places I think we can all do more is how we represent different races, different genders in the marketing we put out into the world. Because that's so many impressions out in the world creating an impression."

Douglas Kling, chief marketing officer, Village Farms

"You're judged by your results. Our department is 70% female, 30% male, not because it's a gender issue, but because it's a quality issue. They were the top candidates, they earned the position, they got it." ​

Jane Wildman, former president, North America, Combe Incorporated ​

"The best teams have diversity in thinking. That may be gender, it may be other factors. But there's diversity in thinking. And the best teams have the best performance."​

The industry has come a long way. Merely having open conversations about these topics shows progress, but more must be done. Companies like Intel, Google, and P&G have invested millions into diversity programs. While it's still a work in progress, P&G now report that women represent almost half of its management and about one-third of its senior leadership.

With industry leaders putting their money where their mouths are and with organizations such as the Association of National Advertisers shining a light on these issues and providing action plans for companies, 2018 looks to be a year of significant progress. ​

Adam Cohen-Aslatei is vice president of marketing for Jun Group in New York City.

Search The Drum Jobs

Explore the best jobs in Marketing and Media industries
View all open jobs