Building inclusive teams

Inclusive hiring, agency selection, and culture setting are the fundamental first steps toward inclusive marketing. While we still have work to do, we want to share what we’ve learned so far to help you build inclusive teams along with us.

Hire and retain underrepresented talent

Hiring, progression, and a culture of belonging are all key ingredients to building - and keeping - an inclusive and equitable team. We know this is an area where we have lots of work to do, so it’s critical that we listen to the experts.

Industry Insight: Why inclusive teams deliver better ideas and stronger outcomes. Industry leaders share their thoughts on why inclusive teams deliver better ideas and stronger outcomes.

One of our partners, David Slocum, Academic Director of Rare with Google, has shared his insights with us. Rare aims to increase the representation and success of underrepresented talent in the creative industry.

“Homogenous teams produce homogenous outcomes. But diverse teams, built around different perspectives, experiences, and sets of skills, enable creativity and innovation. And that leads to better products and more meaningful marketing campaigns.”

Here are some concrete strategies from Prof. Slocum’s article, The power of difference: How to hire and retain diverse teams in brands and agencies:

  • Expand points of entry within your company with paid internships, contractors, and rotational programs.
  • Conduct deliberate outreach to diverse networks and individuals across industries to identify the actual talent.
  • Understand who your employees are through segmented survey assessments, independently facilitated focus groups, or one-on-one talks. Then understand the obstacles to supporting their inclusion through things like barrier analysis and culture research.
  • Embed diversity and inclusion goals and efforts into overall strategic and operational conversations. For example, include employees in organizational decision-making, make those efforts visible, and share ongoing progress and challenges.

As we all navigate the impact of COVID-19, it’s vital to continue building a culture of belonging in our workplaces. At Google, with many employees working remotely, we’re focused on helping our employees connect and find new ways to prioritize inclusion. Learn more from Melonie Parker, Google’s Chief Diversity Officer: How to foster inclusion while working from home.

Select inclusive partners

While some of our creative work is built in-house, much of it is done in partnership with creative agencies around the world. Agencies are an extension of our team. In order for us to develop work that’s inclusive, both Google and our agency partners need to foster a sense of belonging within each project team — and across our organizations as a whole.

To expand your team’s perspectives, consider partners whose ownership, management, and creative leads are made up of underrepresented talent.

  • From casting to hiring a director and editors, having a more representative production crew can lead to more creative and successful outcomes.
  • To create more opportunities for inclusion, identify agency partners with underrepresented people on their leadership teams. For example, consider working with agencies with certified underrepresented ownership. Our partner, Ad Council, suggests reaching out to organizations like Black in Film, Bid Black, and LatinX Directors.
  • To identify businesses owned by underrepresented people, consider partnering with Disability:IN or explore ANA's recommended deep dives into supplier diversity in marketing/advertising and this list of 300+ certified diverse suppliers.

Get to know how your partners hire and retain underrepresented team members.

  • Reach out to your partners and ask them to share their inclusion strategies and the progress they’re making (and be willing to share your own). Learn more about how we’ve started to survey our creative agency partners.
  • Define what inclusion and belonging mean for your organization and industry, and then hold yourselves and your partners accountable to those values.

Foster an inclusive team culture

Challenging bias is the core work of inclusive marketing. As such, it can (and should) lead to uncomfortable conversations and raise difficult questions. Without open discussions, we can’t make progress. At Google, we always strive to do better in this area, because when we do, we see significant improvements to our work.

  • Create space and norms for everyone on the team - regardless of their role, seniority, or personal identity - to speak up while being respectful of each other and of company values around inclusion. And when they do, listen.
  • Consider creating an inclusive marketing panel to ensure employee resource groups don’t continue to take on this work, especially if it is unrecognized and outside of the scope of their role.
  • Be respectful of the time and energy it takes to have these conversations. Acknowledge that this can be a burden - more often on underrepresented people - on top of the work they’re already doing.