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72andSunny and VML first agencies to become 3% Certified


By Minda Smiley | Reporter

November 3, 2017 | 6 min read

The 3% Conference has revealed that 72andSunny and VML are the first two agencies to have become 3% Certified.

VML and 72andSunny

According to the 3% Conference, the two agencies have met its proprietary FORE standards: Female leadership, Opportunity for advancement, Respectful depictions in work and Equality of work, wage and policies.

The conference announced the development of its certification program two years ago, stating that agencies who receive the 3% stamp of approval would be ones that actively promote equality in the workplace and meet a particular set of goals.

In the years since then, 3% Conference chief operating officer Lisen Stromberg said that the organization has been looking at data including staffing ratios, retention, tenure, promotion and turnover to evaluate whether or not an agency is eligible to become certified. In addition to this data, it's also been securing employee feedback through one-on-one interviews and surveys to help it determine if an agency has reached certified status.

The results of a recent study that 3% conducted called ‘Where We Stand,’ which were revealed at its 6th annual conference in New York City on Friday, have also helped the conference come up with key benchmarks that agencies must meet before becoming certified.

The benchmark study examined 31 agencies, which Stromberg said provides “a snapshot of the experiences of nearly 18,000 US employees and 65,000 global employees.” According to 3%, the study was based off of statistics that were anonymously shared by both holding company agencies and independent ones. The study marks the first installment of a body of a data that the conference hopes to grow as more agencies share information. Agencies who are interested in confidentially contributing their statistics can visit this website.

The initial research found that 39% of women hold executive roles across agencies of all sizes while 29% now hold creative director roles. While the figures show “women are still under-represented in executive roles around the board,” the study states that the industry is “making progress on the creative front with the percentage of Female Creative Directors higher than reported in previous studies.” Past studies have pegged the number at roughly 11%.

“Overall, while we were happy to see that nearly 30% of creative directors are women, we believe agencies serve their clients best when they have truly equitable creative teams,” said Stromberg. “Our motto is diversity equals creativity equals profitability and until we have equity in creative departments, agencies are simply throwing potential profitability for themselves and their clients out the window.”

The study also looked at family policies within agencies. While it found that 100% of agencies surveyed have a paid maternity leave policy in place, only one agency offers more than 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. When it comes to paternity leave, only 48% offer paid time off for new dads, which is often capped at two weeks. It also found that less than half of agencies surveyed offer return-to-work or new parent on-ramping programs.

“We were very disappointed to see that only 42% of agencies have 12 weeks or more of maternity leave and that very few had paternity leave,” said Stromberg. “With 64 million millennials expected to become parents in the next decade, this is a recipe for losing talent. We are already seeing a mass exodus of women in their prime child-bearing years flee to the brand side in order to secure better support for motherhood. This industry must become more family-friendly if we want to be able to retain the great talent we have in the pipeline.”

The study also revealed that half of agencies surveyed have performed wage audits, and of the ones that did, most found wages to be approximately equal and took action to fix inequalities. However, half of agencies surveyed have not performed wage audits.

"We believe all agencies should conduct wage audits and should establish a system to ensure their talent is paid fairly," said Stromberg.

On the diversity and inclusion front, the research found that 55% of agencies offer diversity and unconscious bias training, yet “many of these trainings occur only a few times a year.”

At the moment, only 16% of agencies surveyed have chief diversity and inclusion officers, most of which are at the holding company level. The research states that many “don’t see the value of chief diversity and inclusion officers,” arguing that they either believe their shop is too small to warrant a dedicated leader or that they’re large enough to make diversity “everyone’s responsibility.”

While agencies have been making progress when it comes to gender equality, they are still lagging when it comes to other forms of diversity, particularly LGBT and race. According to the study, while 58% of agencies have formal women's networks, only a third have LGBT networks and less than a quarter have ones for employees of color.

During the conference, Stromberg gave some tangible examples of how VML and 72andSunny achieved 3% Certified status. She said that VML initially had maternity leave that was less than 12 weeks, but committed to enhancing their leave to be a minimum of 12 weeks in order to become certified. She also said both VML and 72andSunny have conducted wage audits and continue to monitor salary on a regular basis to ensure parity.

Wunderman proudly supports The Drum’s 3% Conference coverage. We believe true diversity does not check boxes, it checks itself.

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