Because diversity has a direct (and indirect) impact on new business, agencies must bear in mind that their digital presence will be evaluated by prospects as much as their pitch decks.
Two of the most obvious areas that reveal an agency’s commitment to diversity are the “About Us” or “Team” page, and its published diversity data, which has taken on greater importance.
The same tips can also apply to marketers whose customers are checking out their Web site.
"About us" and team pages
It's critical to perceive how an agency's new business-supporting assets might appear to prospective clients. If there are inconsistencies around what the agency says and how it visually represents itself, it’s time to take a look (ideally from an outsider perspective) at opportunities to make improvements.
Going through dozens of agency “About Us” pages, it’s typical not to see a single Black man on anyone’s leadership team.There were also only a handful of Black women, and they were concentrated in a few agencies (mostly in diversity and HR roles).
White men dominate agency ranks by far, followed by White women. Asians and Hispanic/Latinx of both genders seem to fare better than Blacks, but still are under-represented relative to their proportion of the population, and their representation declines at the executive level.
One observation: some companies have more pets on their team pages than people of color.
Another helpful insight is that company leaders can’t read the label when they are inside the jar. That means they lack outside perspective and are therefore deficient in understanding how they present to the world.
One of the areas where companies demonstrate some “insider blindness” is around team composition. Most likely when they look at their own team page, they see all these talented people whom they know and love working with. Maybe they focus on the design or photography. Maybe they don’t look at it very carefully at all. Perhaps when they look at people who look more like themselves, they don’t register potential diversity issues.
Context is important, too. Consider an agency based in a smaller city in the Midwest, whose team composition is roughly 85%-90% White. Doesn’t that just reflect their local demographics? But when an agency based in Manhattan has a team of 15+ people and they are all (or maybe all but one) White, it also tells something about who they are as an agency. In a city where less than 50% of the population identifies as White, it seems like it would take significant effort to maintain an agency roster that’s over 90% White.
So companies may try to present the best version of themselves through their “About Us” and Team pages, with creative approaches like sorting mechanisms and using illustrations, to obscure or de-emphasize potential diversity issues. But any advantage gained through shortcuts to achieve the appearance of diversity will likely be short-lived.
Ultimately, if the appearance of diversity is important, it’s time to promote more people of color, inclusive of Black professionals, into executive leadership teams.