How DEI is becoming part of everything we do
When we started our DEI program, I wanted it to be a different kind of business initiative. I wanted it to be a journey where we continuously increase our impact through the rest of my career and beyond. While I knew we could achieve some improvements right away, I recognized that the more ambitious results would require time.
Back in 2019, we made a commitment to progress to support Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at our agency. Like other organizations, we started our DEI journey with a committee and foundational goals.
Our agency goals include:
- Ensuring our work respects the diversity of the audiences we want to reach.
- Making our culture welcoming to collaborate with diverse and talented individuals with all types of backgrounds.
- Building relationships with diverse agency partners, freelancers, vendors and educational institutions.
Now, we are evolving DEI from being an initiative to being an integral part of who we are and how we operate. We are taking our efforts and results to the next level.
Here’s a snapshot of the five stages of DEI maturity in the workplace:
In the integration state, DEI is part of all our internal operations and the work we do for clients. For our client work, we apply DEI to every phase from research and strategy to distribution and measurement. We want DEI to help our clients engage more diverse audiences, enhance their brands and grow their businesses.
Empowering our team
To further develop our DEI practices, more than a quarter of our staff participated in the 4A’s Campaign Enlightenment Program, enhancing their awareness and equipping them with new tools. The participants in the training shared what they learned and helped further integrate DEI into their department functions.
The training and new tools led to many DEI inspired solutions such as:
- Conducting primary research that identifies barriers first-generation students face when navigating college websites.
- Developing new recipe and activity content that use a client’s products so that they are more inclusive and adaptable to the diverse abilities and backgrounds of the adults and children who seek to make them.
- Creating a discussion guide to help our corporate event clients plan inclusive events that are supportive of all people in attendance, regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or abilities.
- Providing guidance to an employer branding client on eliminating racial bias in their job descriptions.
- Educating our web design team to go beyond ADA compliance guidelines to create better user experiences for people with disabilities.
Each area of JPL including our higher education division, Paskill, and our custom eLearning and training solutions subsidiary d’Vinci Interactive, has now set specific DEI goals aligned with department and company objectives. These goals were shared across the agency in a virtual workshop, increasing visibility, cross-department collaboration and accountability. As we share progress and case studies, I expect to see more integration into our culture and our work that will make our DEI efforts even more sustainable.
Other notable accomplishments that have contributed to our progress include:
Supporting diverse talent for our industry
- Launching a foundation that is funding scholarships for underrepresented groups in advertising, creative design, media production, web development and programming.
- Participation in the 4As Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP).
Supporting diversity in our local communities
- Celebrating diverse artists through our diversity mural on our Harrisburg building, inside the lobby and with exhibits in our onsite gallery.
- Bringing in food trucks for our team members that are owned by diverse-owned businesses.
- Featuring artwork from diverse artists in our gallery conference room.
- Providing pro-bono work through our intern program to help area non-profits that support diverse populations.
Continued education to enhance our work
- Ongoing education for our team using DEI consultants and guest speakers.
- Partnerships with multiculture and diverse-owned agencies, consultants and freelancers.
While I’m proud of our collective progress, I know the journey requires ongoing leadership. Despite some recent negative sentiment about the effectiveness of DEI programs in the workplace, I know that our efforts are making a positive difference. I encourage all business leaders to keep their DEI initiatives moving forward. The more of us that stay on the journey and strive for the next stage, the greater the impact we’ll have on our workplaces, clients, industries and communities.