We’re Not Done Clearing the Path: How to Support DE&I at Work

    Women In Advertising

    By Alan Miles, Chief Executive Officer, NCS

    It’s often said good decisions come from experience, and I think that’s true in more ways than one. Our personal experiences inform our future decisions, both outside and inside the workplace. When we bring many types of experiences, backgrounds, cultures, etc. together in decision-making, the outcomes are significantly better.

    I’ve experienced firsthand how organizations benefit from a diverse workforce. This observation isn’t unique. Time and again, research shows the most diverse companies outperform those that are less diverse.

    Professional experience has helped me to understand the “why,” but my childhood experiences have shown me the “how.” My mother had to work full-time while raising four children. She was lucky to be able to do both, given how many obstacles there were for working women with children during that time, but it was extremely and unnecessarily hard for her - something I did not fully appreciate until much later in my life.

    Her experience shaped my understanding of what steps organizations must take to make DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) initiatives work: the right environment and the right levels of support for employees. 

    Leading the way to better outcomes for brands

    Women are central to diversity, equity and inclusion. And where would we be without them in today’s marketplace? Indeed, it’s hard to understate the impact of women on marketing, advertising and research. 

    Women have long held sway over household buying. In the 1930s, they were responsible for 75 to 85 percent of consumer spending in the U.S., although few were employed in the industry. Men outnumbered women eight-to-one as advertising agents, and those women who were employed primarily focused on beauty and household products. 

    Happily, that has changed. Today, women comprise the largest share of talent in the industry, as measured by membership in the ANA, an industry’s trade association. In 2022, 68.3% of the membership was female, as was 55.6% of senior management. 

    Just a few of those who paved the way include:

    Women In Advertising

    How to clear more paths to diversity, equity and inclusion

    Although the women mentioned above cleared the way for some, there’s still new ground to break. Non-white diversity in the industry - at 29.1% - is below the 42.2% of the U.S. population that identifies as non-white, according to U.S. Census data.

    At NCS, our employee population is 55% female with 62% of those female employees holding manager positions or above. Making the workplace more equitable is the right thing to do, but there’s also a strong business case for it. For our business to succeed, we need a variety of viewpoints. When teams comprise people who have diverse experiences - different cultures, backgrounds and communities - decision-making is vastly improved. 

    At NCS, we’ve implemented numerous ways to improve diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) year-round. One of the most effective is our NCS DE&I task force, which promotes communication and listening through all-hands meetings, personal stories, and newsletters. We want to highlight every individual experience.

    Creating a mutually beneficial structure for everyone

    What I’ve come to realize over my career is that the things my mother needed to successfully support her family are the same things that make all employees and businesses successful.

    1. Flexibility and trust. Greater flexibility around work schedules and locations combined with high trust in our employees to get things done is a core requirement. Giving people autonomy about when and where they work improves mental health, job satisfaction and morale. 

    2. Time off. Employees have lives and obligations outside of work, and sometimes they have to manage the unexpected. Adequate time off helps employees manage family obligations and gives them an opportunity to recharge. Spending time with those who are important to us - children, spouses, parents and siblings - allows us to come back to work refreshed and ready to innovate.

    3. Fair pay. To attract and retain top talent, pay equity is one of the best tools we have. We must set standards for compensation packages that motivate all employees and cultivate company loyalty.

    Employees who are fully engaged in family life will also be fully engaged at work. I saw that play out firsthand during my childhood, and I continue to see it confirmed in today’s workplace. When everyone on your team is confident all is running well on the homefront, they have peace of mind and that allows them to focus on performing at the top of their game. 

    See how NCS women continue to pave the path in the CPG ad industry. Read our blog, Inside the Mind of Today’s Marketer, written by Deirdre McFarland, our SVP of Marketing.

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