According to a the Canadian Marketing Associations new report, From Engagement to Retention: DEI’s Impact on the Marketing Profession,  51% of employees at companies with well-diversified leadership report preventable staff loss during the pandemic, compared to 75% at organizations where leadership is not at all diverse. Furthermore, 24% of employees with senior teams that are not diverse say that their organizations are making no efforts whatsoever to retain racialized staff, compared to a negligible 1% of respondents from organizations with well-diversified senior leadership.

“Our research clearly demonstrates that impactful and meaningful DEI initiatives begin with intentionally making room for diversity at the leadership table,” said Sartaj Sarkaria, acting chief operating officer and chief diversity officer, CMA. “This can take many forms, including appointing a senior DEI lead, requiring diverse hiring slates for executive roles and ensuring that decision-making processes include diverse voices and perspectives.”

The imperative to have well-diversified leadership is evident throughout the report. For example, well-diversified leadership leads to significantly higher employee engagement. 12% of employees in organizations with well-diversified leadership report feeling less engaged due to systems of discrimination, but this figure rises to 52% in companies with leadership that is not at all diverse.

Perhaps most importantly, leaders and staff in organizations with diverse senior leadership exhibit higher standards of behaviour. For example, individuals are less likely to have experienced a micro-aggression if they work at a company with a well-diversified senior team, with just 25% reporting this compared to 63% of marketers in companies with leadership that is not at all diverse.

Similarly, in organizations with diverse leadership, 100% of marketers believe that their organization will take appropriate action in the event of a discriminatory incident – a figure that drops to 49% when leadership is not diverse.

Despite the critical importance of diverse leadership, the research shows that it remains an elusive goal for most organizations, as just 22% of respondents indicated that their company has a well-diversified senior team. And, while 81% of marketers agree that support from senior leadership is the most effective step in implementing a DEI strategy, only 52% of respondents indicate that there is a senior-level person dedicated to DEI in their organization.

The 2022 survey reinforces last year’s findings that improving DEI is important for employees and for business growth. “We see from the research that a diverse and inclusive work environment has many benefits, including more innovation and creativity, a better understanding of customers and clients, and stronger employee morale,” says Patrick Bhang, co-chair of the CMA’s DEI committee, and director, new branch format & digital merchandising at RBC. 

Other highlights from the study include:

  • Perceptions of DEI are not universal: 94% of non-marginalized men believe their organization will take appropriate action in the event of a discriminatory incident, compared to 80% of marginalized women. A 78% of non-marginalized men are far more likely than marginalized women 33% to believe that people from BIPOC communities rise to senior positions at the same rate as individuals who are not from these communities. 
  • Women continue to face gender bias and ageism: 52% of non-marginalized women believe that once you reach a certain age, you have no chance of getting hired or promoted. Women are also less likely than men (13% versus 25%) to believe that they would be praised if they challenged someone in leadership who made a racial, ethnic or gender-based joke.
  • Expectations of agencies have shifted due to talent shortages: While 59% of client-side marketers say that their agency team needs to reflect Canadian diversity, this is a significant drop from 2021, when 71% agreed with this statement. This may be a by-product of significant staff shortages that have forced lower expectations for an interim period as companies navigate through turnover caused by the Great Resignation.

The research was conducted by independent research firm RKI. Approximately 500 marketing professionals across Canada participated in the survey. The research is part of the CMA’s broader commitment to take steps to combat racism and discrimination in the marketing profession and was developed in collaboration with the CMA’s DEI Committee.

Source: CISION Newswire