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Agencies Agency Leadership Diversity & Inclusion

What does it take for marketing leaders to make genuine DE&I progress?


By Sam Anderson | Network Editor

August 3, 2023 | 7 min read

At a recent roundtable of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) leaders from the marketing world, we asked our panel one important question: what does continued progress in this space need from adland’s leaders?

A circle of matches, with a variety of colored tips

How can marketing leaders make their organizations - and themselves - ready for DE&I change? / Georg Eiermann via Unsplash

Paige Power, client partner, Kepler: “Equity is an essential part of DE&I. While we talk about equity within our businesses – how we make roles more flexible to support people in how they are different and they don't need to fit into boxes –we also need to continue to focus on that when we're hiring. We don't need rigid job specs, or to be rigid about things like your scores at school or your progression throughout your career to make you fit within a box.

“Equity takes into account that people come from different backgrounds, and they have different strengths. They don't need to be traditionally book-smart to do great in our industry. Sometimes that can be the forgotten part of equity. And businesses need to focus on not only looking at their internal equity frameworks, but also the external ones when they're looking to bring in talent.”

Charles Ifegwu, managing director, The Fifth: “It’s about putting together a framework. For me, that's been what I call the three pillars of aligning DE&I with business priorities. It’s a triangle: your people, your community, and your output.

“It starts with your people – who are the people who are implementing this? Do you have a representative team and allies within your team that push you to engage your community in an authentic way and do meaningful work?

“That filters down to the community and audience that you cultivate, which can a hold you accountable to being representative and having initiatives that mirror what your people are saying.

“Then there’s the output: the work you do, or aspire to do, that engages the community, attracts talent engagement to be aligned with your DE&I priorities.”

Eden Andu, HR Employee Relations + DEI, Wasserman: “It's oversimplifying it, but for me it’s about getting past titles and rigid hierarchies; getting past ego; getting past not being the expert, not being knowledgeable on everything. To me, true leadership is recognizing when we need to step aside, listen, and allow others to take up space, especially when that person should not or can't. It’s about letting go and truly cultivating the space.”

Kandice Quain, media manager, Bray Leino: “Start by looking at your like immediate, unique situation. For my agency, it was that we were not very diverse in certain areas. We knew the stats about, for example, about educational attainment, and we wanted to focus on that. We're trying to focus on the things immediately in front of us, and what we can actually have an impact on, rather than going all-out and trying to fix everything at once; there are so many areas of DE&I, but focusing on your situation, and following it through, is important.”

Luisa Monteiro Furlan, culture and engagement director, Jellyfish: “For me, it comes down to just three things. First, listening to your people, making it really collaborative, and not just making it seem like it is.

“The second is trying new things. We need to impact and amaze our own colleagues as if they were clients. Here at Jellyfish, we recently had a culture day: a ‘28-hour-day’, all about diversity and culture and how it relates to business – because we had the feeling that people didn't understand that relationship between business and diversity. We had people bringing their personal stories: about allyship, about changing countries, about growing from poverty.

“The third thing is to start by empowering someone else that has a different background from you. In my case, I wouldn't look for another Latina woman; I would maybe look for someone from a gender or sexuality minority, because I'm heterosexual. Mentoring and reverse mentoring are very important things if we are to open up our heads, implement real change, and do something that was never done before.”

Jennifer Chapman, talent director, PrettyGreen: “At PrettyGreen, I'm so proud of ‘A is for All’, our code of conduct. Our DE&I journey runs our recruitment, campaigns, and the advice we give to clients. The industry as a whole needs to continue to be brave: brave to say when we don't know; brave to ask questions. Many of us need to accept their privilege, and if it's not your lived experience, ask us the questions. If everyone comes together, we’ll find a lot of common ground and experience and that will create change.”

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Jellyfish is a marketing performance company for the platform world, where success demands a creative, multi-platform mindset. We help brands thrive, by navigating, connecting, and harnessing the platforms that drive growth.

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Bray Leino

We drive growth through creativenergy®, by going beyond, to find the most powerful way. It’s the way we began back in 1973. Before email, before mobile phones, when London was still 6 hours by road, our founders set up shop in a gloriously rural part of the UK. It’s how we grew into a full-service global agency. And it’s how we still look at the world now.

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Your world used to be limited by who you knew or where you lived. Now we live life in infinite digital space. Dating online. Working remotely. Minting NFTs. If you thought disruption was a threat before, how about now? Expectations have exploded. New platforms, creators and trends in constant flux. And you’re expected to have this all figured out. Gone are the days when you could turn to an agency – they can’t keep up either. That’s why Brave Bison is a different beast; a media, marketing and technology company built for the new era. We connect digital experiences, creators and conversions, underpinned by a universe like no other – our own social first media network. With monthly views in the billions, we know how to build communities and make hearts roar.

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