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Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable and Necessary Truths

February 1, 2021
By John Saunders

Last year, we started coming to terms with some uncomfortable truths — at FleishmanHillard, our deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion got stuck in good intentions and our steps forward were not enough. Since the acknowledgment of such truths, we’ve been listening, reflecting and working toward progress. The tough conversations and realities continue to surround us, but we are resolute in our focus. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable will be how we arrive at real change.

Today we’re sharing our 2021 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) Plan as the path toward progress. Our ambition to become the most inclusive agency in the world is not a hollow statement or one-time initiative. It’s a promise to our employees, our clients, our communities and our shareholders. As we embark on our 75th anniversary, DE&I is essential to shaping our future. These are defining moments for FleishmanHillard and the world we do business in. We must be DE&I change agents — forging new and reimagined standards, ideas, values and ways of coming together.

By sharing the plan, the intention is to advance and accelerate together. Through it, we will be urgent, transparent and action-oriented so team members across our organization can authentically participate and foster an inclusive culture. Our work ahead is significant, so we have outlined five strategies to target multiple areas of our employee experience and business operations, transforming simultaneously. They include:

1. Moving DE&I to the Center: Integrate DE&I to the nervous system of our business, committing and investing aggressively to support the efforts

2. Growing and Retaining Talent: Improve representation of talent from marginalized groups

3. Making DE&I Intrinsic to Our Work: Transform DE&I into a centerpiece for our client counsel, practice groups and agency POVs

4. Broadening Our Aperture: Make space for perspectives and to confront each other constructively

5. Creating Community Connection: Invest in community inside and outside our walls to achieve impact at scale

Our targets for 2021-2022 include:

  • Achieving 20% diverse representation across our cumulative FleishmanHillard leadership teams including the Cabinet, client leadership office, top client relationship managers and general managers
  • Donating the equivalent of $7.5M in cumulative volunteer and pro-bono contributions through FH4Inclusion
  • Measuring, benchmarking and improving FleishmanHillard’s DE&I progress using our proprietary DE&IQ tool
  • Embedding DE&I goals into talent performance review processes at all levels
  • Increasing our True MOSAIC DE&I practice client counsel outside of the U.S. by 25%
  • Achieving a U.S. workforce composition of 15% Black, 15% Hispanic, 15% Asian/Pacific Islander and 10% two or more races.
  • Continuing to evolve and adapt our composition benchmarks, prioritizing inclusivity
  • Applying a DE&I perspective to all agency trainings
  • Appointing a DE&I Champion to help cultivate an inclusive culture at every local office
  • Increasing our Employee Engagement Survey score for “my office values diverse perspectives” from the 2020 benchmark of 79 points to 85 points out of 100.

Along the way, we will measure, evaluate and provide many opportunities for honest feedback to ensure our progress serves our people, our business and our communities with the change we want to see in the world. Becoming the most inclusive agency in the world is more than our ambition. It’s how we become the best agency in the world.