WFA To Unveil DEI Charter For Change At Cannes

The World Federation of Advertisers is unveiling what it is calling a “Global DEI Charter for Change” at the Cannes Lions Festival next week, with the aim of “driving real actions and improving the lived experiences for multiple groups working in the marketing industry,” according to the group.

Developed with input from members of WFA’s D&I Taskforce, the Charter identifies actions that the group says global organizations need to undertake to ensure a better experience for the one in seven members of the industry who say they could leave their company or the industry due to lack of diversity and inclusion. That finding came from the WFA-led Global DEI Census, which was published last year.



The Charter for Change identifies 11 main action areas:

Actions for Leadership:

--Create a diverse leadership teamWhere groups are not represented, leadership must have strategies for short-term progress and beyond. 

--Understand and democratize your company’s dataLeaders need to understand the data of inclusion: who is being promoted at every level and what barriers are holding particular groups back. 

--Create transparent policies and publish themOrganizations must strengthen anti-discrimination policies and be transparent in policies, expectations of leaders and employees, and how to escalate situations when needed. 

--Create psychological safety and supportGenuinely safe spaces allow employees to speak up candidly. Companies must invest in qualified facilitation for these spaces and have clear rules of engagement. 

Actions to support Underrepresented Groups:

  • · AgeProviding continued coaching, mentoring, and career development for experienced and younger employees alike shows the organization is committed to supporting and retaining all forms of talent, irrespective of age. 
  • · CaregivingEnsuring that decision-maker roles include leaders with caregiving responsibilities – for the young, but also for the elderly and the sick – can both serve as a positive example to others and encourage the adoption of flexible policies. Adding emergency caregiver support to employer benefits plans can actively support those with caregiving responsibilities. 
  • · Gender: Businesses need to understand and improve women’s lived experiences. Support plans need to be tailored to the cultural differences and employment conditions in each market, so that women feel valued and provided with sufficient support to progress their careers.
  • · Race and ethnicityCreating programs and spaces specifically designed to support and empower ethnic minorities helps show commitment and progress to populations that usually report poorer lived experiences.
  • · Disability and neurodivergenceBusinesses should prioritize actions which help normalize and improve understanding of all forms of disability. Accessibility needs must be discovered and accommodated as part of the employee onboarding experience.
  • · Sexual orientation and gender identityCompanies must have policies in place to protect but also support LBGTQ+ employees. Benefits including pay, bonuses, parental leave, health insurance should be explicitly available to same-sex couples. Non-binary identifying employees should have their chosen identity recognized.  

Action on Mental Health

  • Providing and continually promoting mental health benefits so that they are accessible and top of mind is important. People managers should be trained in how to respond to mental health issues and have supportive discussions around mental health with employees. 

The Charter will be introduced the Cannes Lions Festival, where the WFA will organize several sessions dedicated to the census and charter during the week, including a panel discussion on Tuesday (June 21). 

The Charter for Change also links to best practice ideas from across the industry.  

“The inconvenient truth is that we still fall well short of where we should be,” on the DEI front, said WFA CEO Stephan Locke. “Many people in marketing, both at brands and at agencies, are still having a poor lived experience in their workplaces. Most of the issues are global and therefore we call upon all multinational organizations to implement real change across all the markets where they operate.”

Looking ahead, WFA is planning a second wave of research on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (in partnership with others) in 2023.

A copy of the Charter can be downloaded here.


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