MDC Partners' 72andSunny has released a playbook on expanding and diversifying the creative class, based on what it says has been its own successful (and ongoing) diversity mission.
The guide, which encourages others in the industry to "steal" its ideas and then "bend them and make them your own," is available on 72andSunny's website. It includes an email address for people to offer feedback, questions and their own insights.
As of now, it focuses on North America, but going forward, the agency will integrate learnings from its international offices, such as Amsterdam, Sydney and Singapore, says Evin Shutt, chief operating officer and partner at 72andSunny. The shop also has a
"We are figuring this out as we go and invite feedback and input," the playbook states. "Unlike most fresh ideas in our industry that are crucial to protect, we feel this one is bigger than all of us. If we're truly going to make an impact, we're going to have to collectively embrace the sharing of ideas."
Since launching its diversity strategy three years ago, Shutt says 72andSunny has increased diversity, but doesn't have the figures to quantify the growth. Women now make up 15 percent of the agency's creative directors globally, it says, and 35 percent of its group director-and-above roles. Additionally, she says, the shop is only 6 percent away from achieving the level of diversity of the total U.S. population (per the 2016 U.S. Census)—although, Shutt says the goal is to better Census numbers.
One chart in the playbook (left) shows the discrepency in the industry overall, and how today's creative class doesn't reflect larger society when analyzed across gender, racial and cultural participation rates. While 64 percent of the population is Caucasian, for instance, 81 percent of the creative class is comprised of whites. And while 13.3 percent of the U.S. population is African American, only 7% are part of the creative class.
In its guide, 72andSunny explains nine "plays" to help diversify the creative class. They include: frame diversity as an opportunity for all; set clear, measurable goals; galvanize the entire company to act, not just leadership; increase organizational consciousness; use your space as a resource; play the long game; invest in bespoke retention programs; say yes to other people's good ideas; and make a scorecard that helps you make strategic decisions (and say no elegantly).
Shutt says the agency had a number of "stumbles" that it had to overcome, such as initially only asking leadership to act. "It moves a lot faster when you're open and transparent with the company and the mission, and we accelerated our pace and progress in the last eight months to a year when we got more open with this conversation with the whole organization," she says.
Additionally, she says the agency learned that it's not enough to just recruit diverse talent—there also has to be a focus on retention efforts and growth opportunities.
"We are by no means experts on this," says Shutt. "This is a hope to be a catalyst for a conversation."