Reflect & Reflect: How an Agency is Making More Inclusive Work

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The team at Grey New York asked how they could begin judging their creative on its diversity and inclusion, and the answer they came up materialized in what they call “The Progress Brief”. Chief Creative Intelligence Officer at Grey Suresh Nair sat down with Founder and CEO of The 3% Movement Kat Gordon to talk about their experiences developing and implementing the idea.

Grey, a global advertising and marketing agency that’s over 100 years old, teamed up with Gordon and her team to collaborate on the project. The 3% Movement was started seven years ago with the goal of altering the status quo and improving the representation of women in creative leadership roles.

Since that time, the number of female creative directors has raised from 3% to 11%. While Grey’s goal wasn’t exactly the same, Gordon’s team seemed like the perfect fit to help them with this project, according to Nair.

The idea behind the brief was to create a rubric the agency can follow to ensure that their creative is inclusive and representative of the whole population, according to Nair. The process of drafting the brief wasn’t simple.

They had to figure out not only what exactly they were adding to the creative brief, but where they were going to add it, according to Nair, who noted a common sentiment around the Grey office that there are too many boxes to check already.

In the end, the team decided to add the following criteria that would be considered at the end of every creative brief:

“How can we make the idea reflect and respect the world’s diversity?”

An emphasis is put on the difficult task to address the idea of respect in their creative, according to Nair, because the initiative isn’t just about hiring diversity, it’s in addition to that. They not only want the people in their creative to be representative, they want the ideas behind the creative to be representative as well.

Both Nair and Gordon seemed happy with the effects of the brief, but they aren’t necessarily satisfied.

“We’re calling it the progress brief for a reason. I don’t think the work will ever be finished,” said Nair.

The brief has already had an impact on the agency’s creative, according to Nair, who said Procter and Gamble, one of Grey’s biggest clients, were surprised but supportive of the idea. Every creative brief that goes through their system, a number that Nair estimated to be easily above 150, is now being judged based on diversity and inclusion, and it’s helping them sell a product that appeals to every customer.

But Grey is just one agency. If change is going to happen at scale, it’s going to take more, according to Gordon, who said she has recommended implementation of the brief at every 3% conference, but didn’t know of another agency that has altered their creative brief to include a checkbox on inclusion.

Even Grey is debating whether or not they are doing enough. The team has considered moving the inclusion section of the brief from the bottom of their checklist to make it seem less like an afterthought to creatives.

“There’s some tough conversation that happens along the way,” said Nair.

Both parties, hoping that one day inclusion will be ingrained in human nature, long for the day that they don’t actually need to include it in the brief. Until then, they will keep making progress.

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