The Search Agency is proud to have been a finalist for the new category of “Diversity & Inclusion” during the 2018 Bing Agency Awards by Microsoft Advertising. Since this was a newly-created award introduced this year, it highlights the agencies that were already the most progressive in our industry — and those with business practices reflecting a diverse and inclusive atmosphere — before they knew these qualities would be something brought to public attention.
The Bing Agency Awards recognizes advertising agencies and technology partners from across the Americas in 16 categories celebrating individual, team and agency talent. Vanessa Bayer of Saturday Night Live hosted the event, which incorporated several of her stand-up sets during the awards ceremony. The Search Agency, along with four other finalists, was nominated for the “Diversity & Inclusion Champion of the Year Award,” which is awarded to the agency demonstrating the strongest commitment to diversity and inclusion, both in the day-to-day, as well as through specific activities and initiatives. It was an honor for us to be nominated for the award, and while we didn’t win in this category, we believe the true winners are all the employees that will see future change within their organization. Thank you, Microsoft, for creating this award category to encourage agencies to adopt business practices that reflect a diverse and inclusive culture!
Here is the short speech we had prepared in case we won the award, and we stand by its message:
“Diversity and inclusion are not passive! We must actively seek out the talent often hidden beneath the insecurities of those that have faced a lifetime of oppression, and too often been dismissed as “not a cultural fit.” We must encourage and mentor the female that has heard countless times “you’re not strong enough” or “you’re not leadership material.” Most important, we must overcome the dangerously unspoken sentiment that “men are better leaders,” or that certain ethnic races are superior, or that innovative ideas can only come from the young.
So, empower the minority that thinks he doesn’t look the part to find strength in his unique history. Empower the feminine male, the masculine female, the transgender, those of every race, religion and unique ability, to overcome their perceived weaknesses, low self-esteems and discouraged mentalities. Then, we will find new solutions from unique perspectives. We will build loyalty to our organizations, and most importantly, we will forever change the trajectory of those we mentor. We will create new leaders that may bring the greatest growth and most positive change within our companies.”
The Search Agency prides itself in our diverse hiring practices. We seek out and employ talent with a multitude of disciplinary and cultural backgrounds, not just in our Los Angeles headquarters, but in offices across the world in Toronto, Bangalore, London and Baltimore. Almost every TSA employee has a background in more than one disciplinary field and can work across multiple advertising channels at the agency. Half of our staff is non-Caucasian and eight percent identify as LGBTQ – about three times higher than the national average. At TSA, we celebrate and learn from each other’s differences in order to foster an inclusive environment that highlights the great work of all unique team members.
The Search Agency has also rewarded employees with the highest performance with promotions, and this has resulted in an increase in the percentage of females in leadership roles. Over the last two years, we have promoted two females to director roles and also hired a female vice president, resulting in females representing more than 50 percent of the U.S. paid media leadership team.
Our company atmosphere supportive of inclusion and diversity goes a step further, impacting the way our managers speak with clients about some business solutions and advertising copy. We practice diversity and inclusion externally, offering guidance to our clients on how we can create positive and empowering marketing messages that meet our KPI goals but also acknowledge our social mission.
Our goal is to inspire other agencies and companies in the tech world to expand their inclusivity and diversity efforts and build a more inviting work culture that will attract new and innovative talent to our field. Below are three things agency leaders can do to foster inclusivity and diversity:
- Raise awareness about unconscious bias at work. This re:Work guide by withGoogle.com is a great introduction and can be shared with your full staff today. Here is the page linking directly to a video by Dr. Brian Welle from the Google’s People Analytics team presenting on this topic.
- Support training and workshops. Bring in special guests to hold workshops or support your team members in learning and presenting materials that support diversity in the workplace. Again, re:Work has an excellent guide to help facilitate your own workshop. Plus, Microsoft offers an online training course on “Unconscious Bias” that we recommend.
- Create a “diversity and inclusion” support group. This team can be dedicated to exploring new resources and to using them to foster education among your staff. This support group can hold a periodic women’s leadership brunch that also welcomes men, speak on panels such as Microsoft’s “Janes of Digital,” hold after-work events for LGBT employees or address how advertising can influence a more positive stance on diversity.