Diversity, equity and inclusion: A journey that’s totally worth the trip

Today marks the beginning of the 52nd annual Pride month, commemorating the 1969 Stonewall uprising and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.

I’m a proud member of that community and also am privileged to lead our diversity, equity and inclusion work at Curious Plot. The creation and implementation of this strategy is among our highest priorities this year. As we prepare to celebrate Pride, it’s a good time to share why DEI has become such an important effort for us to embrace.

Why DEI matters

Of course, we’d all say that striving for a more equitable, inclusive and diverse culture is simply the right thing to do. Very little argument there. But beyond that and when viewing the question through a business lens, why and to whom does DEI matter? Let’s take a closer look.

DEI matters to employees.

Inclusive organizations have an easier time attracting talent across demographics, according to 2022 research from the global management consulting firm Bain & Company. That research shows that 65% of people across various identity groups view an inclusive environment as “very important” when considering new roles. That same research also revealed:

  • Employees who experience low inclusion are up to six times more likely to pursue new jobs compared with those in similar demographics who experience high inclusion.
  • Employees who feel “fully included” are much more likely (+71%) to promote their place of employment to others vs. those who feel “not at all included” (-83%).

Especially considering the current ultra-competitive environment for talent, being a DEI-forward organization feels like a non-negotiable.

DEI matters to clients.

A growing number of Curious Plot clients are not only building or growing DEI programs, but leveraging their support of DEI in their communication with stakeholders and as a key differentiator in their efforts to attract the best talent. Research conducted in 2021 by WorldatWork, a leading global nonprofit serving professionals in the employee reward sector, indicates 83% of nearly 700 responding organizations say they are acting on DEI-centric topics, up 13 points from 2020. Like most other agencies, Curious Plot strives to mirror our clients’ values, and it’s clear that DEI is a growing priority among our current and prospective client partners.

DEI matters to our business.

A DEI commitment is not only the right thing, but it’s good for business.

We are seeing more requests for proposals (RFPs) include questions about our commitment to DEI. In fact, we responded to an RFP within the past month that included this question among just 12 it asked about our business philosophy: Tell us about your policies on diversity and inclusion.

We know that, for some organizations, an agency’s DEI commitment can be the deciding factor on whether it wins a piece of business.

Building the DEI wheel

After taking some ad-hoc steps to increase our DEI efforts over the past few years, we committed last year to developing a strategic and sustained DEI focus within our agency. While the decision to move forward was relatively easy, the work since then has been a bit more complicated.

The biggest question we wrestled with initially was how to establish a DEI infrastructure within our company. The last thing we wanted was to create a DEI effort separate from the rest of our business. That’s when we decided DEI would live as a pillar under our Curious Plot brand. This was a critically important – if seemingly obvious – decision because it aligned DEI with our brand values, voice and actions. More importantly, it ensured that DEI would be part of the fabric of our brand.

Today, our brand is supported by three separate but complementary teams: our Promotions team, our Culture Committee and our DEI team.

Start where you are

Spoiler alert: We are not an incredibly diverse organization. Yet.

We own that and believe it’s important to acknowledge that reality, and not pretend to be something we’re not. Change can’t happen unless it starts from a place of honest self-reflection.

And while we acknowledge where we stand today, we also can say with confidence that we’re not starting from ground zero. Over the past two years, we have:

  • Established an amazing partnership with The BrandLab (TBL), whose mission is to change the face and voice of the marketing industry through exposure, access, opportunity and equity for high school and college students. We hosted two TBL-sponsored college interns last year and just welcomed our second group of TBL-sponsored interns in late May. We are also exploring opportunities for TBL-hosted workshops about DEI topics for our team.
  • Significantly increased our intern recruiting efforts among historically black colleges and universities nationwide.
  • Supported our clients in their partnerships with groups including MANNRS, FarmHer and others.
  • Included DEI considerations in our judging criteria for our annual Seed to Succeed pro bono grant program.

Move forward with intent

We have banned the word “initiative” in connection with our DEI focus because initiatives are inherently time bound and eventually conclude. We believe our DEI work will never be done, just as cultivating new business, developing our team and any other business-critical activity is never done.

We also know that, just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will our DEI successes. We are giving ourselves time to get it right, grace for when we stumble and patience with those joining us on the ride.

As I mentioned earlier, we are not an incredibly diverse organization. But we’re on our way to becoming one. And that’s what matters.

Cheers to a happy Pride and celebrating the differences that enrich us all!