Conversations for Change: Addressing the Need for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Affiliate

Feb 24, 2021
Written by CJ

How can affiliate marketing make better progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion? This engaging discussion from the CJU20 Digital Series brought together leaders from across the digital ad industry to shed light on how they’re navigating today’s heightened discussions on systemic racism, how to lead teams to do the same, and ways we can all drive meaningful and lasting change. This conversation will inspire you to initiate change within your own spheres of influence, whether in your organization, team, or personal life.


This podcast is a recording from the panel discussion, "Conversations for Change: Addressing the Need for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Affiliate" from the CJU20 Digital Series which was held virtually on September 23rd, 2020. We also have a video recording from this session available. Looking for more? View all session content from CJU20.



Editors note: Since this session was recorded on September 23, 2020, Kenya Feinberg and Corey Flournoy have since left their respective companies to pursue DE&I at other organizations.




Junction Live, taking thought leadership off the page and into the studio with some of the sharpest minds in affiliate marketing.


Hi, everyone. I'm Nicole Ron and I'm head of global marketing, product marketing, and business systems here at CJ Affiliate. My team puts on our annual performance marketing conference CJU. Last year, we had some incredible sessions led by amazing speakers. But the most inspiring session of last year's event is the one that I'm sharing with you today: Conversations for Change.

In this session, CJ was joined by leaders from across the digital industry from companies such as Google, Groupon, MagicLinks, and our own parent company, Publicis Groupe, to address the need for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. While the format of today's episode may be different, I'm excited to share the words of wisdom and inspiration of these incredible individuals on topics as critical as this one.

At CJ, this is a conversation we've been having at length and we've been focused on initiating real change. I hope this episode encourages you to do the same within your own spheres of influence—whether in your organization, your team, or even in your personal life. Please enjoy!


Thank you for joining us for Conversations for Change, a very timely and important discussion with a few individuals who are truly leading change within our industry. Today, our moderator, Kenya Feinberg, VP of Corporate Development, will be speaking with our panelists about ways affiliate marketing can make strides towards greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. So without further ado, I'll hand you over to Kenya. Take it away!


Thank you so much, Jason. And hello everyone! Welcome to the final stretch at CJU20. We miss the in-person connection and the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara, an opportunity to connect with new friends, old friends but we hope that you've been able to learn something very valuable today in our virtual format.

I am Kenya Feinberg. I am Vice President of Corporate Development at CJ Affiliate. I serve on the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee at CJ Affiliate as well as the Publicis Media inclusion council. I have to say that I'm super excited about our next 50 minutes together and I'm proud, I am honored to belong to an organization that has truly been honest with itself during this time in our country. CJ has been unafraid to ask, "Who are we? What do we value? What can we be doing better? And what are the resources that we need to truly drive positive change as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion?"

CJU20 was a terrific opportunity to broaden that conversation by inviting an esteemed panel of passionate thought leaders to share their perspectives on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope you leave this session inspired. We hope that you leave it curious to learn more and hopefully with at least one insightful takeaway that you can apply in your organization or in your personal life.

So I'd like to take a moment now to introduce our panelists:

We have Aimee Catalano. Aimee leads that global partner marketing organization at Google Cloud. In this role, she sits on the marketing leadership team and leads joint marketing efforts across all types of partnerships. She's been in technology marketing for 20 years working for small, medium, and large companies. Aimee's been leading the women's BRG organization, in two organizations actually and she's also cofounded diversity and inclusion efforts at her previous company, Pure Storage.

We also are joined today by Corey Flournoy. Corey brings more than 30 years of experience and he is a recognized leader in diversity and inclusion programming, strategy development, executive coaching, and employee engagement for multiple national corporations, nonprofits, and educational institutions. He is Groupon's Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity where he oversees the company's inclusion and diversity team and works to sustain a culture of inclusion, integrity, and respect at Groupon's offices around the world. Since 1995, Corey has been a founding partner, consultant, and trainer for Creative Outreach Consulting LLC and is a certified professional diversity coach through CoachDiversity Institute.

We also have the honor of having Renetta McCann on our panel today. She has been recognized as one of the leading innovators and most influential executives in the advertising, marketing, and media industries with a global reputation for not only building brands, but also building the organizations and the leadership to sustain them. As Chief Inclusion Experience Officer at Publicis Groupe, she works to drive inclusion at all levels of the organization with an emphasis on ensuring that the company's clients are benefiting from the many strategic advantages that diverse teams deliver.

And finally, Bryan Mirabal. Bryan leads creative strategy at MagicLinks. He advises thousands of global brands and influencers on compelling data-backed campaign solutions. He also leads MagicLinks' DE&I team, including hosting a weekly Instagram Live series that gives voice and reach to Black, indigenous, people of color leaders within the influencer community.

So lately, there have been a lot of conversations about racial injustice. The recent injustices of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor and then the international movement towards equality, those incidents really should encourage us all to look inwardly at our own conscious and unconscious biases. We are at a point where eyes and ears are wide open. Minds and hearts are also open right now. And CJ honestly wants to continue to be a part of the conversation, but we also want to be a part of the solution. We're improving the lives of the CJ team members but also improving the affiliate industry at large.

So that being said, I'd like to start this conversation today by asking our panel: how has thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion how has it been changed, or how has it been impacted since these recent tragedies have happened? I'd like to hear your perspective with folks paying so much attention to this topic just to kick off the conversation. So if we could open that question up, I'd love to hear from Renetta first if we could and then I'd like to open it up to the other panelists to respond.


Thank you, Kenya, and the CJ organization for having me here today. What I'll bring is kind of a long view to your first question here, because I think in many ways there’s a bunch of things that haven't changed, right? So the fight for equality and justice, the complexity of the situation, and what we need to work towards. What I will say is that the deaths of the Ahmaud Arbery and Breanna Taylor and George Floyd in particular with racial injustice and then all the people who've suffered from COVID-19, I think one of the clearest things that's indicated as changes. Within organizations, we thought DEI was just a function to have to support our talent while they were internal. What I think has happened with all the inequality and injustice we've seen in 2020 is that corporations are being called more clearly into the public square with the recognition that their very own employees are also humans out in the world and that those humans come into the workspace with expectations around participation, expectations around support, and psychological safety. And so, I think the role of the corporation in coming to the table and being definitely an ally, but maybe even a co-conspirator in this work has been heightened.


Excellent, thank you for sharing. Could we get, perhaps, Bryan to chime in on that?


Yeah, absolutely. And thank you, Kenya and CJ, as well for having me—such an honor. At MagicLinks, it really was a catalyst of a lot of change. The week that George Floyd was murdered, I texted my CEO at 6:00 in the morning, and we very quickly decided on what an action plan was going to look like. And realizing that that action really needed to be tied to a commitment to change rather than just putting out a statement. So a lot happened sort of organically from there. We stopped all marketing and really focused and took a pause to first check in on our team, hearing, first and foremost, from the Black co-workers at MagicLinks about what that experience has been like, really experiencing a different world than some of our other co-workers. And so, those conversations are happening internally. Externally, our CEO put out quite a strong open letter that we did send to our entire ecosystem of partners. So we knew that having such a strong position was a risk and that there were likely going to be some responses that weren't super positive. But it was important to us to not only act quickly but also to make a long-term commitment to change.


Great, thank you. I think, also, it's important, perhaps, that we level-set just a little bit more before we dig deeper into the conversation. And I'd like to do that by hearing from each of the panelists. We can actually start with Aimee on the next question, which is, Aimee, talk a little bit about defining or sharing diversity, equity, inclusion. I think that these words are sometimes used interchangeably. I think that they are all very distinct. So if you would, if you could just kind of level-set by defining or sharing what diversity, equity, and inclusion are to you.


Sure, absolutely. So when we think about diversity, it's really the differences each of us possess, right, whether it's race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, age, and so on. And I think it's really important that we attract, develop, progress, retain all of the different underrepresented groups and all of the groups and the different levels within Google and within our workforce.

When we think about equity, this is about access, right? This is high outcomes of access, opportunities, and successes for all individuals regardless of any social or cultural factor. And I would say this also includes recognizing the advantages and barriers that require the need for potentially some differentiated strategies to bring people to parity, right?

And then inclusion, obviously, this is just, how do we create a workplace where everyone, every employee, feels welcome, respected, supported, and valued? And how do we all help and create conditions for everyone to thrive? That's kind of the three definitions that I think about when I think of DEI.


Great. Corey?


I guess similar to Aimee. Yeah, diversity is the representation of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity. All those different things that companies, organizations should have. But not because of numbers, but because of what bringing these individuals to the table does for the company. So what perspective, what different ways can you solve problems when you have a diversity of people who have different experiences and different ways of seeing the world in the workplace working together? So that's diversity from my standpoint—is having people in the room with different perspectives.

The inclusion piece is really important because there are organizations that do strive to get a diversity of numbers. But if the environment and culture is not one where people can be themselves—where they feel included in conversations, they feel included in decisions—then they tend to leave or they tend to have a very bad experience. And I've worked for places like that, I've been that person. And inclusion means, have you created space where you do care to actually hear from the people that you have of diversity in that workplace? And not just in lower levels, but in all levels of the organization and across departments.

The equity piece is the difficult part because that is the part that often companies get uncomfortable with. When you think about fair treatment and access and opportunity, there’s sometimes this narrative that by giving someone an opportunity that "is different to someone else", I'm giving them an advantage or lessening the playing field—all those kind of things. Equity is recognizing that there are people in our society who have not had the same opportunities, not have the same privileges, and have not had the same advantages and we recognize that and we're going to do something about it. So equity is what are you doing to change that dynamic? So that people like women, people of color, LGBTQ, people with disabilities—that those things don't become barriers for them to succeed.


Any ideas or anything you can share, Corey, about maybe specific tangible examples of how you've been able to see equity played out actionably in a way that that's very willed or real that perhaps folks can glean from? Could you share any specific examples that you've seen in your current role, previous role? Anywhere along the way.


Sure. So when I came on to Groupon two years ago as their first global head, one of the first things I did was I wanted to see the numbers, see the diversity. And quickly recognized, a) we didn't have any ethnic diversity at the C-suite level. There wasn't a great amount of gender diversity in our tech space. And even worse, in the pipeline going down a few steps, there still wasn't that much diversity there. And so, the equity piece is wondering, "What do we need to do different that is going to help us to start getting diverse talent in the room at that higher level?"

And so, we created something called the Great Leadership Program which is Groupon's resource for emerging and aspiring talent. But it was a program geared towards that mid-level, people of color, and women who are in the organization, they're doing well, but they're having a challenge getting to the next step. And so, we did a year-long intense program where these individuals—we chose 15 for the first year—got executive coaches, they received mentorships from VPs and above, even the COO was a mentor. We brought in internal and external speakers. In fact, Renetta was one, she spoke at our graduation for our first cohort. But it was all about investing in these individuals to give them access and opportunity that they would have not gotten just by being employees of Groupon. And so, that's how you start to change dynamics. A third of those individuals got promoted even in that first year of the cohort.

And another important piece was including the managers in trainings. Because you can give resources to individuals who are marginalized, but if the managers do not know how to be sponsors, give opportunities, bring people into the room that normally wouldn't have that opportunity, then you could still get that barrier to actually succeeding or getting hired in an organization


Great. Thank you for that. Thank you for sharing that.

The next question I'd really like to kind of open up the question with a response from Renetta, and that is, Renetta, could you please share with us why DE&I is important in the industry—in the marketing industry—in the digital space specifically? And some consequences for not prioritizing DE&I within our industries?


So I'll admit, right now I'm a generalist, so I probably don't know the digital space as well as an Aimee or a Bryan or a Corey. But here's what I'll say. From an industry perspective, what we all know is that the demographics of the United States, the demographics of the consumer populations that brands and marketers and companies are trying to connect with—those demographics are changing. And what we are seeing is that by 2030, a significant portion of that desirable demo, if you will, 18 - 30, 18 - 34, will be people of diverse or multicultural or racially different backgrounds. And quite frankly, this topic takes on critical importance because what we're talking about is the development of messaging and then content that resonates with that consumer base and also carries relevance so that they'll connect with those brands. It's critical that, at least in my mind, that you have the kind of insights or cultural intelligence that fuels that, and that you also have on your teams the perspectives that help you see and get to those insights and the ah-has and certainly things that will help you with what may be inevitable missteps in communications. So I think really what's driving us for our industry is our consumer base. And I think what will hold digital back, in particular, is because it's delivered as close to one-on-one as possible, you want to be knowing more and more every day about that one-on-one and then tailoring those messages to those people. And I find it hard to do that in a multicultural world if a diversity of perspectives and people and insights aren't present.



Excellent. Let's see. Maybe we could have Bryan touch on that a little bit more. Consequences for not prioritizing DE&I with our industry. Bryan, would you share with us, please?


Yeah. Absolutely. And so MagicLinks is all about the world of digital content creators, specifically video influencers. So when we really look at our entire network, it is consisted of an incredibly diverse group of individuals to begin with. And so for us, it's really important to make sure that we are supporting these individuals to share their stories in a way that is authentic to their true background. Now, we take that a step further when we are also working on the brand side and trying to bridge the gap between what that unique experience looks like for an influencer, and then taking that to the brand, where the brand and saying, "This is what our KPIs are. This is what we want our brand to look like." And sometimes that doesn't necessarily hit the mark with what the content creator would like to create. Similar to what Renetta said, we know that when we're looking at our overall demographics of who our content reach is, it's very diverse, and it's just getting even more and more diverse as each year goes by. So for us, it's really taking a step back and educating our brands first and foremost about what diversity, equity, and inclusion needs to look like within casted campaigns, engaging with content creators, and how that representation of your brand through the content of an individual, where's that going to live? And so let's give an example. We're working with a hair care brand right now. And they come to us and they say they want to have a diverse group of influencers. So that's when it's important that on our team that we do have Black employees that understand that Black hair care is extremely different than hair care for other races. It just is. So it's little things like that that we would have missed and help us to really educate the brand in terms of what that timeline should look like. We're not looking at a 90-day rollout anymore. We're looking at closer to maybe four to five months because of the cycles of washing hair. There's just little things that we see, and it's a conversation that we continue to have because I think this year we're seeing brands—all brands—sort of wanting to double down on their diversity and inclusion strategies. And so what that actually looks like in practice is a lot of education.


That's a great segue into the next question that I want to ask. And, Corey, I'll get you to kick this off. I think sometimes there can be this idea or even a misperception that the commitment to diversity sometimes conflicts with the commitment to excellence. We have to lower standards to achieve or accommodate diversity. Can you talk about that relationship between diversity and excellence, and how that often plays out?


So first, I'm going to deal with the fact that I think comes out as a misconception that you have to lower the bar to get diversity in the room at certain levels. And this is a conversation I've had with the senior leadership at Groupon, and through my consulting business—I now work with probably five or six other companies having similar conversations about this question, right? We want diversity, we have this position open, but the candidates just don't match up. They don't have the same years of experience, and do you lessen? Do you make an exception for them just for the sake of diversity? And I like to turn the question back around on people like that—particularly cis-gender, white, heterosexual men—who are in those positions in leadership and say, "Well, at some point in your career, did you get a job that you didn't necessarily have the experience for, but someone gave you the opportunity and chance believing that you would grow into the role?" In almost every case, the answer is yes.

Most people I know who are CEO or C-level—a lot of times it's their first time in that level of job. But for some reason in our society, there seems to be this belief that if you have a certain person that you'll grow into the role, or that you'll meet the demand and we'll work with you to get there. But when it comes to a person of color or a woman, we're often met with the, "Well, we're going to have to pass you on this position and maybe we can revisit it in a year" and you know, it's unfortunate. So we’ve got to change this mindset, right?

I think it goes with first looking at job descriptions. I think sometimes the requirements are so specific that they put in job descriptions— “You’ve had to run a $5M P&L”. When you finish making that job description, there are only white men who have that level of experience to get the job. So by virtue of how you create a job description, you've already guaranteed that you're not going to get diversity. And then you're shocked when you don't find people who have all that experience.

So I think it's time to take a step back and think about what true qualities, what skillset do you need a) to be successful in a role. And also, if a person doesn't have all of it, are there other people within your organization who can help supplement in those areas where it may not be that person's strength? Sort of like being President of the United States. You are not expected to be an expert, or should not be an expert, on military, health, etc. That's why you have a team of people who have certain expertise they bring to the table. And so we got to change this narrative that if you're a person of color or a woman, you are expected to be superman or superwoman or super Black person, and have everything ready to go from day one, and start being realistic about what we need and what we can supplement.


Could we perhaps get Renetta to chime in on that? I think it also ties in very nicely to perhaps what I've been hearing lately in the media is about like, oh, it's a pipeline thing, and we don't have the pipeline to kind of facilitate the diversity goals that perhaps we've set out for ourselves. Renetta, can you speak a little bit about how that perhaps ties into the question that I just asked about excellence and diversity, and there does not necessarily have to be a compromise in order to meet those goals?


Yeah. And so I agree with everything that Corey said and what I will add on is actually, and I wish I could quote his name, but I read a columnist in the Financial Times, that basically says, the advice that most people with portfolios receive is to diversify that portfolio. So why if we can diversify our portfolios, if you have a mix of long-term assets, different kinds of assets, why does it seem so hard to do that in the organizational structure? And I think part of it is back to who's setting the standards? How are those standards being set? One of the things that I will say is that this whole conversation around pipeline is actually—I would just call it in Hitchcock terms, it's a MacGuffin. It's something that we like to talk about but doesn't really exist or move the story forward. And I think companies get trapped in trying to fill the entry part of it and not pulling people through the pipeline in order to do that. So I just really think we have to take a step back, understand what kind of skills we're looking for, what kind of outcomes we're looking for. And then begin to bring in people who can advance that thinking, take some risk on them, see where it goes, and then set new models instead of relying on job descriptions that were written ten years ago.


Great. Thank you. Thank you so much.

I'd like to shift the conversation a little bit, and I'd like to throw this question over to Aimee if I could. And, Aimee, I'd like to ask if you could share with us, or describe a program, an activity, a strategy in your current role, or even in previous roles, what are some easy to replicate programs that you've seen work well? If you could provide an example, a real-life example, of a DE&I-related effort that has perhaps helped to drive the organization, provide some progress along those lines.


Sure. I can actually think of two—and very relevant to the conversation we're having right now on bringing in the right talent into the company in the spirit of job descriptions. So actually one of the things that we did is, we took a historical look at data from over 6,000 job postings in an 18-month period.




And we analyzed word count ranges and language, and basically how it was affecting who was applying. It was interesting. So one of our findings was that when a job qualification summary is more than 54 words, women applicants decreased dramatically. So as a result, we created this tool to basically help mitigate bias and so now every job description gets run through this tool and so we analyze the text as well as the word count and remove words or phrases that could potentially bias a candidate against applying. And actually form a results standpoint, postings that went through this tool, we actually saw an 11% increase in applications from women. And so that was one program that really showed meaningful thought into what is actually written in the job description can get you to the outcome that we're looking for.

And it's not just the job description. And I'm always really big on this in terms of think about the interview panel that you set-up for candidates and then also the interview questions, right? How do we make sure that they're consistent? They're very competency-based interviews every single time. And then I'd say the second one is there was a lot of this thought around “culture fit” versus “culture add” when you bring people in. So there's all this, "Oh, how do we think about candidates?" And we look to hire people with different backgrounds with a whole wide range of experiences. And so, we want to focus on how a candidate could add to Google's culture, not just how do they fit into what it looks like right now. And so we actually have a “culture add” training. 90% of people who take this training basically said that it's completely inspired them on how they think about a candidate when they interview and how they would be more of a” culture add” versus a “culture fit” into the company.


That's fantastic especially the idea of adding to the culture, complementing, supplementing the culture—not necessarily just fitting in with like, "This is the way it is today. Are you a good fit for what we have going on?" But sometimes adding something different is exactly what an organization might need. So thank you for sharing that.

Bryan, are there any things that you can share with us today, examples related to DE&I that have really helped move the needle within your current organization or even previous?


Yeah, absolutely. So one thing that was very quick moving right after we had taken our first initial stance on Black Lives Matter this year was the development of a series that's now ongoing called Tea Time. Now Tea Time is a weekly series that I host on the Magic Links Instagram where we are basically giving the floor to different Black thought leaders in our community to talk about whatever they want to talk about. It's really not too structured and our whole strategy was really let's grow and develop policies by asking and learning. So realizing that we don't have all of the answers. We don't know everything. And the best way for us to really combat that is to first take a step back and open it up and learn from different stories and backgrounds. So that actually started with one digital content creator who's a beauty creator based in Texas. She actually reached out to our CEO directly thanking him for taking a strong stance on Black Lives Matter and she was my first Tea Time guest. From there, it sort of evolved.

Very recently, I had another guest who had responded to another one of our marketing sends that we sent out that was supposed to be a Father's Day focused messaging but instead we titled it “Daddy Changed the World”. And it was really-- it was actually sent on the day that would have been Breonna Taylor's 27th birthday. And so our messaging was really focused on that.

From there, this amazing—oh, my gosh, she is the best—but one of my Tea Time guests, she is a self-starter. Started her own influencer agency that represents exclusively Black talent, and we had a great conversation last week, actually, about what sort of inherent biases she sees within her industry and what she's experienced. And she said that, at one point, she was asked if her Black influencers would convert the same in terms of sales metrics as other white influencers. And so that was an interesting thing for us and a great example of us seeing, well, one, that's just an example of inherent racism just sort of happening in real time. But what could we learn from that? So we took that and then we actually went back to our full casted influencer world and looked to see, okay, let's break down the numbers. We learned from someone that this is a question, so let's look. And so we did a full audit of all influencers that we have casted in 2020, and in fact, found that our Black influencers have the highest conversion rate of any of the racial groups that we work with. So interesting findings, but again, we would never have gone to that point to even ask those questions had we not opened up the floor to conversation.


Wow. That's impactful. And certainly interesting—thank you for sharing that.

We understand that the topic of diversity, equity, inclusion, it's not always an easy topic. We understand that DE&I efforts sometimes are received warmly and positively, and sometimes there's negativity. There might be backlash or there may be resistance. Could I get one of you panelists—I'll let you just kind of jump in and whoever wants to answer can answer it. But if you did receive any kind of negativity or resistance or pushback regarding the efforts of DE&I, how did you handle that? How did you overcome that in your current role, in a past role, or even in your own lives, your own personal lives?


So I'll jump in and say yes. [laughter] So when Groupon made a public statement about Black Lives Matter and our efforts to support Black-owned businesses and everything else, we received some negative responses from merchants and customers and probably some employees who may feel the same way. They just did not vocalize their viewpoint. And so I think one is being steadfast in whatever your position is as a company. You can't back down when you get challenged, right? So I had to do some training with internals. Questions were, can we just get rid of the merchant if they don't like what we're doing? Or could we just say thank you for their feedback? But I think it's an opportunity for education.

So when you get pushback, it is an opportunity to provide education to those who want it. So there are people who are, “Black Lives Matter, the movement, it's a connect to Antifa”, and they're just—all this misinformation about these groups are. And so I'm good for sending a person a link to the actual website to give them a little background about certain things that people think, what they hear in the media, or what they hear on certain news outlets, on social media. How do you help educate people? This is a great opportunity in this space to connect people to the right source of information. And what I find is, in those situations where we've received emails or even on social media when people push back, "All Lives Matter," and everything else, you provide people with a fact. Sometimes there's a debate. More times than not, I get no response, which means, if you have read what I've said, they possibly have gone to it, they have a different perspective, and rather than engaging in any further dialogue, they just leave it alone.

But I do think we're in a time where you can't back down if you take a position. And I think companies that cower away from it, it speaks volumes. It shows that Black Lives Matter and stuff was a slogan. It was something you posted. And it's a movement. And so part of a movement means you have to be committed to doing the work and, in some cases, doing education.


So I'll give a more one-to-one example. So I was in the agency being filmed for an internal video that was going to play about the topic of diversity and inclusion. So asserting my commitment to the topic as well as asserting the agency's commitment. And after the film—I guess stopped rolling if you will—after that session was over, the person who was filming, a person pretty much of my generation, but a white man looked at me, and he looks at me directly because we're really close and he goes, "You know, I don't believe any of that. I don't believe or agree with what you just said." And I looked at him and I said, "Well, I understand. And you know what? If you want to have a coffee, we can talk about that."

Because what I find is that part of what drives the backlash is that people believe that they will now be excluded, or removed, or punished, or lose something of value to them. And essentially, I tend to be more of a promoter of the abundance story, which is that there is more to be gained by embracing inclusion and figuring out how narratives are connected, but also how the presence of narratives can expand the world and expand our insights, intelligence, our ability to go to market, etc. And so I think it's just that recognition at the individual level that people are very concerned about, "What is it that I have to lose in this?" And that's part of the backlash.


Wow. That's very powerful, thank you.

I wanted to kind of rewind for just a moment. In that previous question, Aimee gave a really great example of what I would like to couch as accountability in the form of measurement. Can anybody else share examples of how we hold organizations accountable for moving the needle and making progress in the form of how we're actually able to measure? So Aimee gave the example of resumes and increasing that by 11%, as it relates to having more women, right? So I wanted to kind of step back a moment and see if you guys could share any further examples on what we may be able to take away today to go, "Okay. Yes, there's work to be done. Sure, there are conversations that we need to have. But how do we know how we’re doing?" So if you guys could give any examples and I'd like to hear from anybody that wants to chime in.

Bryan, perhaps you could kick it off to say, how do we measure ourselves and hold ourselves accountable to be able to look back quarter over quarter, year over a year? I mean, we are in marketing and without measurements what are we really, truly doing? So as it relates to the efforts around diversity, inclusion, and equity, how do we measure ourselves? How do we hold ourselves accountable?


Oh, yeah, great question, Kenya. So a few things. We, one, now have a minimum, non-white inclusion for all casted campaigns. So we are measuring ourselves against that benchmark. We are measuring ourselves against a lot of benchmarks really within our overall network to make sure that we are—back to the conversation of equity—helping our BIPOC talent and content creators to really get to the same level where they have the same amount of opportunity as that of their white counterparts, particularly when it comes to brand sponsorships. So that's one measurement point for us.

In terms of kind of how we interact with the external world, we also now have within our sales offerings a fully-dedicated diversity package, where that is the focus of our campaign and the intention there is to really help to educate our external brand partners on what that sort of campaign should look like. And so we will be looking quarter over quarter at that, how many brands actually go for that. That's a new thing for us so we're not really sure if that's going to be successful. At this stage, we are trying things. We're committed to making a change and we realize that not every activity that we engage in is going to have the best of results, but it's important for us to at least test first and try it out and make sure how we want to be perceived and the commitment that we want to make is something that is both impactful and measurable.




Yeah. For Groupon, we have KPIs—or key performance indicators—in several areas. So for us, in the talent space, we have a certain percentage of a diverse workforce we plan to retain and develop over the next year. So that looks like we provided some special training for managers to know how to have conversations with people who have different cultural backgrounds.

We also recognizing—and this is true for myself definitely in my career. We're doing a job shadow program because it's interesting that people of color and women often don't even think about decisions at a higher level because it wasn't even something for consideration—to believe that you could be part of the C-suite. A lot of people and women of color just has never even entered into the thought process that they could do it. And so we created a job shadowing program where we plan to make certain that a percentage of our employees have the opportunity to get exposure to understand what's really entailed in these roles. And this may be a role you may not be at for 10 or 15 years, but if you can start to see what it's about now, you can start preparing your career to get there. So that's what we're doing for talent.

For culture, we've set a goal to have a percentage of our entire employee base engaged in the actual activities and things we're doing surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion. For instance we just launched a global book club on White Fragility, an anti-racism book club that the CEO personally led. We had 40 different small group discussions. We had two global discussion about the book. So we're engaging people in difficult conversations that most people don't feel comfortable engaging in. So we have KPI for that and other ways we want to get employees engaged.

And then we also have the business. We're in a unique situation, like most of us, is we want to know we're setting KPIs for what percentage or number of our merchants are Black-owned businesses. LGBTQ-owned business. Latin-owned businesses that we want to make sure that we support and help them to survive and thrive through COVID. Minority-owned businesses are struggling much more than other businesses. All businesses are struggling, but minority-owned businesses are struggling at a higher rate. And so, Groupon, we're now on the hook for what are we going to do to help provide additional resources, marketing support, connecting to other resources to help them survive. So we have specific numbers across the board that not just diversity and inclusion my team are doing, but people across business units are also accountable to help us make those goals. So that's the other part that is—and Renetta is in this situation as well—these goals are not about those of us who work in DE&I space. It's about the company and people across departments have to also be a part of us reaching these goals. Otherwise, we can't make it happen.


Absolutely. I agree with Corey. One aspect of measurement that I'll point out is that a number of agencies within Publicis Groupe participate as members of the Inclusive 100, which is an initiative attached to an organization called She Runs It. But what all of us agree to do is send in data to the inclusion index, which is managed by diversity best practices—I've got a whole lot of acronyms here, right? It’s a 350-question survey that tracks demographics. It tracks pipeline. It tracks learning and development programs. It tracks CEO activities and organizational activities. And so one of the things we benefit from—so you can have internal KPIs—but it's also measuring yourself against exemplars in your industry and those outside. Because one of the things we find by participating in a handful of these kind of industries is as progress happens, you have to move your own practices to keep up, right? It's not as if you can just have an unconscious bias training. You probably have to have unconscious bias training plus something for managers plus something for leaders, right? But as the standard moves in the business industry, you need to be measuring yourself against that standard and putting in place more in different programs to help you keep up in this arena.


Love that. I think one of the questions that you kind of jogged by making that statement is it's important to be able to measure, yes. I think that this effort and energy is great when it's top-down, but also when it's bottom-up. And it's both ends of the organizations working at the same time and together.

But I wanted to ask, Renetta, since you're already kind of on a roll here, how best should leaders collect and respond to employee feedback on how diversity and inclusion really impact them? What have you seen work well in ways that leaders within organization and leaders of teams collect that information and collect that feedback from the folks that are on the ground working for them? I know it's not always easy to have a conversation with your manager. So what can you tell leaders, what can you tell managers on how to connect with their employees just on a day-to-day, making it something that's comfortable where it doesn't necessarily have to be super formulaic or super formal, but how leaders can be able to hear from their people and collect that feedback from them, what have you seen work well?


So I'm going to give one best practice, and then leave room for Aimee, Bryan, and Corey to weigh in, and that is as a CEO or a top leader, you just have to go talk to people. You have to meet them. You want it unfiltered. At one point in my career—I can't figure out which years—I was a CEO. And as CEO, the information stream is highly filtered. People are telling you what sort of they want you to hear. And it's all—let’s assume the best of intent, right—but it's highly filtered. And then on this topic, you have to go talk to people, especially around inclusion and ask them, "What are your experiences? What are some of the barriers you face? What does real life look like for you in our organization?" And be willing to accept their answers, to convey to them power or voice or agency to communicate what real life looks like.


Aimee or Bryan?


Sure. I can comment. We also do the annual survey. And it's spot-on what Renetta said. It's listening. And so with each of my leaders that work for me, I sit down and we discuss. And you just listen to what everybody has to say. The other thing that I do that I find is really interesting is not everybody's comfortable to speak up in the group forum. It takes a month or two to actually have enough time to go through this, but I just keep level one-on-one. So I have one-on-one conversations with everybody throughout my organization and really understand how are they feeling? What do they need to be successful? And then, for instance, that's part of it, which is listening. It's just as important to show that we're acting on feedback. So we really care about what is the action plan that we're building against what we've heard and making sure that we share that out and report out against that.


Corey or Bryan, would you guys like to perhaps share what does that collection of feedback look like? How do you make way and give room for the employees to feel like they can share?


So one of the things I would say is you're right. We do a glance survey every month where we read every comment that comes in from employees. I think when it comes to particularly between the manager and subordinate or the person who reports to the manager, there's something called the ACE model that I've used a couple of times. What we found is that when it comes to diversity of individuals between the relationship between supervisor and someone who reports to them, there's also a difference of perspective sometimes about how we think one person is doing. So I don't know if any of you in your career have really thought in your job, you were killing it. You thought you're doing fantastic work. You thought you're getting promoted. And then when you have a conversation with your supervisor, your supervisor has a very different impression of how you thought you were doing versus where you’re at—and that's just not happening at the evaluation process, right? And so there's been some research, actually, that’s proven that the greater the cultural differences between you and your supervisor, actually the greater likelihood of you having a different perception of how you're doing.

So this ACE model is a really non-conflict way of—there's six different categories and I can't tell you what they all are but they all start with A, C, or, E—where you as a direct report, you fill out this thing and so does your boss. And then you sit down, have a conversation, and see where you match and where you don't match and have a conversation about why there's a difference in perception. And if you can start to have those kinds of conversations more and more, from a manager's standpoint, you being to see how you see the world differently. But also, it gives an opportunity for the person who forced you to give you some feedback as to why we have a difference in perception. So the person who was reporting to me, I feel like I'm doing the best I can with the opportunities that you give me whereas imagine, why are you not pushing for more? Well, it really creates a framework to have those difficult conversations that often, you don't realize you're not having until it's time to do an evaluation. And by then, it's too late.


Wow. That sounds like a great tool for inclusion for sure.


Well, that's exactly what it is mostly used for, is in this space of inclusion areas of ability, ambition, commitment, connection, emotional intelligence, and executive presence. And so you as a direct report rate yourself, then your manager, and then you see what is aligned and what is not aligned. And that's a great way. And those are the six areas also that are shown to be needed to move up in positions of leadership.


Yeah. Agreed. I think we have time for just one more question, and so I'd like to open it up to get a response from each of you during our time together. And that question is, what inspires you or what are you most proud of as it relates to your diversity, equity, and inclusion work and you've been on this path in your current roles or previous—what inspires you to do this work?


Okay. I'll go. So I constantly talk to my team and others that we have a lot of work to do in driving the business forward, but I wholeheartedly believe that this is the most important work that we do every day. And so for me, I think what inspires me is I have a daughter, and I would love to see a world where she doesn't face a lot of the unconscious biases that I did, especially earlier in my career. And I feel like we all have such an opportunity to drive change for future generations. And I think a lot of people see the vision. They know it's possible and so that's what kind of makes me think about, "Okay, what are the percentages of time I'm going to spend," and makes me want to lean in and do more work here because this is the stuff that's really going to make a difference when it comes to humans and wellbeing.


So what inspires me to do this work is that fundamentally, I think it's about human potential realized, and human progress achieved. And there is nothing more rewarding for me that I've seen—and I've been around for a while—than finding someone's potential—especially somebody who has some sort of difference, they came from the wrong school, or they took a different career path, etc. There's just something different about them and opening up the system so that they can accomplish great things. It's incredibly motivating to me.


I would say in the DE&I space, we now have a life of pre- and post-George Floyd. Pre-George Floyd, what really inspired was seeing people of color and women have opportunities that they wouldn't have had, had not been some of the programs and happy to say I stayed here in this company, because of the work and the efforts, the things that we’re doing in this space.

Post—it has been watching leadership and others within the organization move from being nonracist to anti-racist. Meaning doing stuff, action, putting forth time and energy to actually help own and trying to change some of the systemic issues that we have. And then also, for us to help underrepresented or minority-owned businesses thrive.




Yeah. And for me, it really comes down to my passion for sharing stories. That's really why I chose the industry that I'm in to begin with. And this is really the greatest extension of that to share the stories that, in my opinion, are the most important to be told. We are in a world now where our words on the internet will live on and on, well beyond anything in the past. Oral traditional is now digital and there's a record of things. And so having the platform to really share those stories and to connect the dots has been really impactful.

On more of a personal level, it's been great to have the support of my organization to really be able to build out a team that's attacking these issues head-on and really focusing on how we can be the change that we want to see. And so, yeah, it's been great, and it all starts with just creating space and having those honest conversations and realizing that before all else, we are humans and the people that you work with are definitely facing different realities. Each and every one of us has a different story and learning to open up space and really listen is super important.


Wonderful. Thank you all. This is not going to be the last conversation that CJ has on this topic. We look forward to continuing this path, doing the work, and driving positive change forward. So I would just like to say thank you so much to our panelists, who are wonderful, who are able to share very openly today. And thank you to the audience. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for listening.


If you enjoyed this episode and are curious to know more about this topic and many others, check us out at junction.cj.com. or find CJ Affiliate on FacebookLinkedInTwitter or Instagram

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