- VMLY&R launched an Inclusion Experience Practice, a consultancy that will help brands and organizations become more culturally sensitive, diverse, equitable and inclusive, per an announcement. Chief Integration Officer Myron King will lead the practice.
- The practice is already working with more than 20 clients across areas including workplace inclusivity and belonging; employee engagement design and activation; organizational design and process enhancement; and culturally adept content, strategy and execution.
- By launching the inclusion-focused consultancy, the WPP-owned ad agency shows another way forward as agencies and brands continue to step up diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts in the ad industry.
VMLY&R's Inclusion Experience Practice aims to boost cultural awareness and racial equity within its clients' organizations, a goal that has become a heightened priority throughout the advertising industry and world at large since the racial reckoning that began last summer after the murder of George Floyd. As VMLY&R's announcement notes, the push for DEI creates not only a positive impact in society, but higher company profits: S&P 500 companies that invested in diversity initiatives had a higher operating profit margin (12%) than those that did not (8%), per a Forrester report cited by the agency.
"As we've witnessed, inclusion is vitally important when we look at the cultural movements affecting brands and people," Jon Cook, global CEO of VMLY&R, said in the announcement. "Understanding and navigating our changing social climate is not only a competitive advantage, it's essential to cementing future relevance."
The Inclusion Experience Practice will focus on three core areas, including transformation of organizations and their processes; boosting DEI by building diverse teams; and a Culture Studio that helps brands navigate cultural fluency. The Culture Studio is one of six studios within the agency. The practice is expected to expand to the U.K. in the third quarter of 2021.
With the consultancy, VMLY&R adds another way for agencies to tackle the issue of diversity in the industry, and joins a growing list of recent developments in the space. Fellow WPP agency GroupM and competitor IPG Mediabrands have pledged to increase client ad spend on Black-owned media, while Dentsu launched a standalone Economic Empowerment division that seeks to boost minority-owned companies and connect them with ad buyers. Earlier this year, BBDO began a career development initiative intended to help diverse, underrepresented creative professionals break into and thrive in the agency world.
While the Inclusion Experience Practice targets brand and organizational clients, VMLY&R has also focused on internal DEI efforts, as agency hiring practices similarly face increased scrutiny. Supported by its executive-led Transformation Board, the agency has hired more than 400 new full-time employees, with more than one-third of new hires identifying as people of color, per the announcement.