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How embracing diverse thinking & experience leads to groundbreaking solutions and superior value creation.

“Great minds don’t think alike. They challenge each other to think differently. The people who teach you the most are the ones who share your principles but not your thought processes. Converging values draw you to similar questions. Diverging views introduce you to new answers.”
Adam Grant

When DNA started in 1998, the advertising world was a different place. Media meant broadcast, print, outdoor and maybe the occasional “banner ad” or two. Social media was non-existent. Netscape and IE dominated the browser market. It was only a few years prior that IKEA ran a legit ad featuring a gay couple and the response was a riot. Literally… a riot erupted.

In 1998, as an industry, we prided ourselves on being “different.” We walked to the beat of our own drum, didn’t wear suits to the office, had ping pong and pool tables and open bars at our desks. We thought we were the cutting edge of cool. But our black mock turtlenecks and denim slacks couldn’t hide the facts: straight white men dominated ownership, leadership and creative teams. 25 years ago, 80% of the U.S. population was white and 12% was Black.

It wasn’t until 2012, when Kat Gordon formed the 3% Conference, that a very bright light was shone on the fact that under 3% of creative directors were women. Her goal was to change that. However, it wasn’t until 2020, after George Floyd’s murder, that we publicly acknowledged that Black, brown and LGBTQ+ people were the vast minority in ownership and leadership in our industry. The outcry was deafening. 

So why does diversity matter? According to McKinsey, including diverse staff in leadership dramatically increases profitability and value creation. Companies with top 25% gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to create superior value, while those with top 25% ethnic/cultural diversity are 33% more likely to lead in profitability.  Being representative of our world is not only necessary, but as McKinsey noted, diversity of thought, background and experience is good for business.

In 2020, the industry made “commitments” to diversity, hired DEI Directors and vowed to share our diversity stats. Seemingly, all good. But has the industry made progress? Yes and no. Despite an increase in women in senior creative roles to 12.6% since 2012, the racial diversity in advertising leadership is declining, with white CEOs jumping from 73% in 2021 to 90% today. This decline threatens our industry’s ability to resonate with a more diverse US population, where the white population is down to 66%, and Hispanic and Asian populations have doubled.

At DNA, as an LGBTQ and Black-owned and led agency, we don’t just talk diversity; we embody it. We champion cognitive diversity, believing that varied perspectives fuel innovation, creativity, efficiency and effectiveness. It’s not just about being inclusive; it’s about being smart. And that’s how we give our clients—and ourselves—a competitive edge.

Interested in seeing the difference we can make? Let’s chat.

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