As the business world steps up to the plate on diversity, equality and inclusion, the advertising industry appears to have a greater responsibility than others.

Not only do ad agencies have to get their own corporate practices straight, they also have to represent wider society in the work that they bring to the world.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Engine Group CEO Kasha Cacy explains what her company is doing and why it matters.

Diversity drives innovation

“There’s a business advantage to diversity,” says Cacy. “The reason Florence flourished was the Medici family brought in so many different kinds of people, artists and scientists and philosophers.

“That cross-section and that intermingling of ideas is what drives innovation.

“If we don’t have a company that represents the US, then there’s no way we can market effectively to the US.

“The history is that many, many, many agencies have not had representation in terms of women, not had representation in terms of black and brown people.”

Equality on the agenda

Over the last year, the industry has stepped up initiatives to enhance diversity.

  • Dentsu UK launched Dentsu Together, a scheme to better reach underrepresented communities using contextual and geo-targeting tools.
  • GroupM has said it is creating “inclusion PMPs (private marketplaces)”, directly aimed at putting money back into the hands of underrepresented voices like LGBTQ+ and black groups.
  • Disney’s Hulu launched Onyx Collective, a content brand for people of color; announced an ABC News strand called Voices Of Change and pitched The Undefeated, a news site covering race and sport.

Of course, doing so isn’t just a nice-to-have. Cacy’s view is that speaking better to distinct communities can enhance results, too.

Everlasting diversity quest

But Engine’s CEO has had to make internal changes to get there.

“What we’ve been doing over the past year is really pushing our employees to understand the core issues of equity and systemic racism,” she explains.

“So we’ve had lots of really tough conversations facilitated by some great folks in the company, things around the historic inequity in terms of housing and mortgages and financing of housing and how that affects wealth over generations.”

For Cacy, diversity is not just a one-and-done, box-ticking exercise.

“In years past what I’ve seen is we do unconscious bias training once a year, and then it’d be one and done and you’d go off and focus on other things,” she says. “This is something that we’re talking about if not monthly, more frequently

“It really takes that kind of consistency and persistence to see those changes happen.”

You are watching “The Media World Accelerated: What’s Next?” a Beet.TV leadership series presented by ENGINE. For more videos, please visit this page.