Bringing diversity, inclusion, philanthropy and environmental sustainability to the agency selection process

2020 was an unprecedented year. The global pandemic. Working from home and working remotely. The rise of global action on the climate crisis. Public protests for the Black Lives Matter movement. On-going examples of gender inequality and violence. A global recession. It was a turbulent year.

For marketers and their agencies, it was a time of working together through the uncertainty. Making plans to survive the immediate crisis and then to pivot, where needed, to take advantage of the emerging norms.

The issues around diversity, inclusion, environmental sustainability and ethical and responsible corporate behavior, which have been fermenting and rising for more than a decade, broke through. At a time when people were confronted by the threat and impact of a global pandemic, many took the opportunity to highlight the concerns of the many.

In our own small way, we took it upon ourselves to do the same and find ways of supporting these global trends for equality and inclusion, because we believe in the power of advertising and marketing to lead by example.

As pitch consultants, our role is to advise and recommend the agencies and marketing suppliers that best suit our client’s needs. To do this, more than a decade ago, we built an online database called the Agency Register. Today, many thousands of agencies have provided and maintained their details in our secure and searchable register.

These details include management and key staff, capabilities, clients, awards, work and more. You can find a more complete explanation of the Agency Register here.

Back in July 2019, Bec Brideson bought to our attention the fact that women-owned enterprises received less than 1% of the tender opportunities globally – a fact validated by the United Nations Commission for the Status of Women. We decided then to ask not just women-owned agencies to identify themselves in our database, but also actively to ask advertisers looking for agencies if they are interested in meeting with agencies majority-owned by women.

But 2020 has been a time for reflection. Particularly on the role we can play in levelling the playing field. Issues such as cultural and gender diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, ethical and good corporate social responsibility and philanthropy are a major focus for society and for marketing, media and advertising.

Interestingly, we are well aware that many procurement teams already investigate and value these attributes in suppliers as part of their responsible and sustainable sourcing commitments. In fact, increasingly, major corporations will not do business with suppliers who do not meet the criteria around responsible corporate behaviour as it represents a risk to their organisation.

Now, while we cannot and should not actively promote one agency over another, we can play an important role in raising awareness of the issues for the industry and provide acknowledgement and recognition for those agencies addressing these issues in a proactive and positive way.

Whereas in the past we would list search attributes such as agency size (budget size), capabilities, agency culture, location, category experience, lack of conflicts and roster alignment. Today we add to this list the corporate values including gender and cultural diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility and their philanthropy.

We have expanded our Agency Register database to capture details of the agency ownership, including gender and cultural composition, and their commitment to B Corp certification.

agency selection process

We have also added in a requirement for agencies to share their values and position on a range of values. But more importantly, provide evidence of the ways these values are manifested in the day to day operation of the agency and are not simply an agency or corporate policy.

agency selection process

Therefore, if you are an agency wanting to make sure you are acknowledged for your commitment and efforts encouraging gender and cultural diversity, practicing environmental sustainability, operating in an ethical and responsible manner and supporting those worse off than yourself with corporate philanthropy, make sure you either register with us or update your details with us on the Agency Register here.

If you are a procurement team or marketer who is interested in selecting agencies who are more closely aligned to your corporate values regarding diversity, gender, the environment, corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, you can contact us here.