Dentsu and Microsoft partner with Kinky Boots to champion hiring initiative

DK Bartley, Daryl Roth and cast members / Refractive Films

Dentsu Ageis Network and Microsoft are quietly changing industry hiring practices for the better, so they decided to partner with award-winning Broadway musical ‘Kinky Boots’ to emphatically share their progress with the world.

A major theme of Advertising Week New York was finding the best ways to target consumers with the right message, but that starts with brands and agencies hiring the right people. For three years, Dentsu has worked with Microsoft to retool their hiring practices by emphasizing diversity and inclusion. Now that relationship has reached a new level.

“Microsoft only wants the best of the best,” said DK Bartley, Dentsu’s senior vice president, head of diversity & inclusion, “and we had to come up with a plan that made sense. And to be honest with you, it wasn’t that difficult, because we started to look at what pipelines were we at Dentsu utilizing to hire diversity talent. What pipelines were best in class for metrics professionals, data analytics professionals, branded entertainment professionals, buying professionals, planning professionals? And by doing that, we created a very strategic relationship with outside entities that would provide us specifically with both young and mid-level talent to work on the Microsoft account.”

This inclusive and strategic approach to hiring brings in qualified industry professionals from under-represented groups, which allows for a diversity of thought that ultimately drives revenue, Bartley explained. Different voices and different perspectives yield both personal and universal messages, a key drive shared by Dentsu, Microsoft and ‘Kinky Boots.’

“Kinky Boots…exemplifies not only the partnership between Microsoft and Dentsu and our collective values, but the idea that we are more alike than we are different,” said Bartley.

Daryl Roth, who produces ‘Kinky Boots’ and was present at the event, called the musical “a personal story, but also a universal story,” a message brands and agencies need to hear loud and clear.

“Advertisers both on the publishing and buying side,” said Bartley, “have been speaking about: Where do we need to go to find talent; we can’t find any diversity people…they’re not best in class. Basically, what we’ve done is change the game. We’re standing as a model to say that is incorrect. We’ve done it; you can do it, too. What are you going to do? We’re showing you the best practices.”

The event, held on 4 October, marked the end of Advertising Week not only with performances from 'Kinky Boots' cast members Stephane Duret and Julia McLellan, but also with a call to action pushing for other companies to be more inclusive in hiring, especially as Dentsu looks for new partnerships to duplicate their success with other companies.

“It was an honor, as part of the ongoing work Microsoft and DAN are doing to change the diversity of our industry, to have the amazing cast of Kinky Boots perform and discuss the importance of [diversity and inclusion],” said Kathleen Hall, corporate vice president of brand, advertising and research at Microsoft.

Bartley said it takes some patience, but implementing inclusive hiring practices only gives positive results. From stage to boardroom, everybody wins.

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