When AOR first created our DEI+B committee, Thrive, we did so because as a people-first agency, we knew we wanted to create an environment that brings connection and community to everything we do, while allowing people, relationships, and our best work to thrive.
By creating an infrastructure around DEI+B, our goal was (and is) to continually promote positive change both within our agency and beyond. To get started on this journey, we first outlined four initiative areas to focus on:
- Recruiting & Representation
- Our Work
These four initiatives have been our guideposts — helping lead our discussions, decide what we need to focus on and how, and have provided a general framework for everything we discuss in our Thrive meetings and do within our agency.
Curious to see what we’ve been up to? Let’s jump in.
Our first initiative is education in which we focus on providing all current employees with ongoing training in regards to diversity, mental health, and overall DEI+B topics.
What we’ve done
Held many agency-wide training and education sessions including:
- D+I training that included a survey + audit of our current feelings as well as resources for continuing our education in this area
- Mental health presentation, education, and training session with an expert from Mental Health Center of Denver
- Presentation on Toxic Positivity, what it is, and how to avoid it in the workplace
- Webinars on a variety of topics such as pronouns and why they’re important
- Black History Month TedTalk viewing session Lunch & Learn + group discussion
- Monthly Lunch & Learn events that will include various DEI+B topics we will discuss when applicable
What we’d like to do
- Host another company-wide D+I training as continued education for employees and for those who were not a part of the first training.
- Use what we learn in both diversity training sessions to create a short PDF to educate new hires on DEI+B
- Share more resources with each other through our weekly all-agency e-newsletter
Our second initiative is centered around our culture and how we can improve it to be more DEI+B focused. Upon the creation of Thrive, we outlined many goals for this initiative including first and foremost the creation of a DEI+B committee that guides us and is a caretaker of culture. We also stated the goals of establishing an external and internal brand and values that reflect our commitment to DEI+B, as well as finding ways to recognize, maximize, and reward behaviors that foster a diverse and inclusive culture, amongst many others.
What we’ve done
- Built full DEI + B plan for AOR which includes:
- AOR’s DEI+B statement and definition of what DEI+B means to AOR
- Our agency DEI+B audit
- Goal definitions
- Establishment of appropriate policies
- A buildout of our four initiatives and the goals for each: Education, Culture, Recruiting & Representation and, Our Work
- Our initial wage equity plan & audit
- Established our DEI+B committee: Thrive
- Created, and stuck to, dedicated monthly meeting to discuss four initiatives and continue the momentum
- Collaborated and wrote our Group Agreements that are read at every meeting
- Appointed leaders for each of our four initiatives
- Outlined a new cadence for all-agency culture building events
- Used our commitment to DEI+B as inspiration during our agency rebrand and beyond:
- Created external and internal messaging — including our core values, Believe in We, Keep it Real, Dare To…and Own It — that reflect our commitment to DEI+B both with our clients and ourselves
- Used those values as inspiration for our DEI+B meeting agreements and overall culture
- Implemented a “Value of the Month Kudos” program that inspires team members to give kudos to their coworkers based on our values and how we’ve seen it displayed amongst our fellow AORians. This helps us recognize, maximize, and reward behaviors that foster diversity and inclusion.
What we’d like to do
- Develop a more in-depth, robust wage equity plan and compensation overview which will be revisited annually
- Create a long-term plan for Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as AOR grows
- Plan more all-agency volunteer days, events, and ways to connect with each other based on our values and commitment to DEI+B
Recruiting & Representation
As part of our Recruiting & Representation initiative, we outlined a two-fold plan, both with a great deal of opportunity areas, to help us build a more diverse pipeline of candidates and ensure our interview process, selection and hiring is fair and unbiased. These opportunities spanned from de-biasing job descriptions, evaluating where and when we post openings, standardizing interview questions, training team members on legal and fair hiring practices, and many more.
What We’ve Done:
- Improved our job posts by:
- De-biasing job descriptions by using appropriate language and testing job posts for bias before posting
- Getting rid of limiting requirements (when appropriate and possible) such as number of years experience, degree requirements, agency-experience needed, etc.)
- Adding salary ranges to job posts
- Sharing our commitment and agency value of diversity and are an equal opportunity employer in job postings and including the AOR DEI+B statement
- Posting to job boards committed to diversity and attempting to find job boards to post to that are outside of the typical agency realm
- Removed bias from candidate selection through:
- Moving away from “Culture Fit” but instead focusing on “Culture Add” by bringing more automation and standard process for all candidates by:
- Standardizing our process and interview questions for each round
- Adding assessments and skills based hiring (and blind copy results to decision makers) to test knowledge, approach or technical skills
- Adding more systematic + standardized criteria for how we judge and choose candidates such as including people from other departments in the interview process to get a variety of perspectives
- Assessing candidates based on their alignment with AOR’s core values (as opposed to ‘gut’ feelings of a person’s personality or their personal life)
What We’d Like to Do:
- Work on building a more diverse pipeline by:
- Extending our agency outreach to a more diverse representation of colleges, universities, and art schools
- Host information sessions, workshops, and attend (diverse) job and career fairs
- Develop diverse relationships and networking opportunities
- Get involved with more diverse area and city events and organizations
- Reinstate and reswizzle our internship program by expanding the program to candidates with transferable skills who may not have taken a traditional educational path toward advertising
Our final initiative for Thrive is in regards to our work and how we accurately represent our commitment to DEI+B both internally and externally. This initiative focuses on adding areas of DEI+B consideration to everything we do, and everything we create.
What We’ve Done:
- Focused on DEI+B in all of our creative outputs by:
- Making sure to include diverse options in all of our talent representation from the stock photography we use in our decks and our creative, to illustration and footage, radio, voiceover, and screen talent.
- Adding a diversity prompt to our creative brief and educating our teams on how to start conversations with clients and create work that speaks to diverse audiences.
- Engaging with diverse partners to help us strategize, concept, and review creative to give us objective feedback and ensure we are speaking in the correct way to our audiences.
- Ensure our own content — social media, email, content marketing — is in line with our policies, values, and initiatives.
- Engaging with clients from day one and encouraging them to expand their target audience to include more diversity.
What We’d Like to Do:
- Continue educating ourselves on DEI+B topics so conversations about our work (and how it can be inclusive) feel more natural
- Discuss diversity and target audiences with clients sooner in the project process so we are keeping it top of mind when deciding who we are talking to and how to reach them.
- Share our Thrive presentation with clients to educate them around DEI+B and why it’s important.
- Expand and/or create a new initiative to include our people — both employees and clients. This new initiative would focus on how our relationships, conversations, events (internally and externally) can support our commitment to DEI+B
We believe looking back on the DEI+B strides we’ve made within our agency is important because it helps us recognize all we’ve accomplished and inspires us to keep going. However, we also recognize that the work is never truly done. In order to continue our commitment to creating a culture for everyone, we must keep moving forward. This includes continually redefining our goals, finding opportunities for our team to be excited and involved in learning and making changes. And ultimately doing our part whenever possible to create a better community — not only within our own walls, but in our industry overall.
Downloadable Thrive PDF