A Year of Make / Change: Make / Change US Diversity Data Q2 2021 Update

7 min readJun 23, 2021


Around a year ago, we made a commitment to accountability with the first in a series of quarterly reports comprised of data representing the gender and racial diversity of R/GA’s U.S. population.

We were transparent that the data we shared at the time largely represented a failure to adequately attract, develop and empower people of color, and Black people in particular, to thrive and lead at R/GA. At the time of the release of the initial Make / Change report we made it equally clear that accountability was not itself a strategy for change. To that end, we introduced a strategy for remaking our culture and moving toward an antiracist workplace centered around equity and shared responsibility for continual progress rather than pledges and limited commitments.

While we have made considerable progress over the course of the past year, and in particular the past six months, we are well aware that our work is far from over. We have committed to the long-term goal of creating a truly equitable environment, something which will require continued vigilance and accountability.

What follows is a candid look at the progress we’ve made since first reporting this data last year, as well as the areas most in need of further attention. We will continue to share this data quarterly to hold ourselves accountable to further change. R/GA is actively hiring across many roles under guidelines shaped by Make / Change, and we hope to report on more extensive progress when we look back at the changes we make in the coming months.

Who We Are

When we reported our initial data last year, we shared that our workforce was roughly balanced from a gender standpoint (51.3% female, 48.7% male), while people of color represented 36% of our workforce, with 64% identifying as white. Of the 36% of our employees who identified as people of color, 14% identified as Asian, 10% as Hispanic and 7% as Black.

While we had a largely gender-balanced workforce overall, a skew toward male talent remained at the senior (53%) and executive (55.3%) levels. People of color remained underrepresented at the senior and executive levels, with more than two-thirds of senior leaders (70.3%) and over three quarters of executive leaders (82.4%) identifying as white.

We’ve already seen considerable progress since committing to decentralizing and democratizing equity, diversity and inclusion operations across our offices, an effort accelerated last year under the leadership of vp, global executive director, culture and operations Jai Tedeschi and director, culture and operations EJ Stancil.

Over the course of the past year, R/GA has increased representation of women and people of color by 1.8% and 1.4%, respectively. Less than two-thirds of our workforce (62.6%) now identify as white. We recognize this is not a significant enough shift in these areas, but have made considerable progress in the representation of women and people of color in more senior roles within our organization.

Of the over 37% of our employees identifying as people of color:
· 13.4% identify as Asian
· 10% as Hispanic
· 8.2% as Black

In the past year, R/GA made a concerted effort to address trends favoring men by deliberately moving more women into every level of the organization. Most notably, this approach has resulted in women now representing a slight majority of our executive leaders (51.9%) and nearly half of our senior leaders (48.9%). Women also comprise nearly two-thirds of our junior talent (64.1%).

While the majority of our executive and senior-level talent still identify as white, we have made considerable progress in increasing representation of people of color across R/GA over the course of the past year.

Most notably, people of color now represent nearly a quarter (24.1%) of our executive leaders, an increase of 6.5% in the past year. Nearly one in ten (8.9%) of our executive leaders identify as Black, compared to just 3.5% last June.

At the junior level, people of color now represent a majority of employees (54.7%), thanks to a similar increase of 6.4% over the past year. Among people of color at this level, more than one in five individuals identify as Asian (20.5%), while 14.5% identify as Black.

A slim majority of talent at the mid-level (53.7%) identify as white, with a 6.2% increase in people of color at this level in the past year resulting in people of color representing 46.3% of our mid-level talent. Of these individuals, over ten percent identify as Asian (12.5%), Black (11.7%) and Hispanic (15%).

What’s Changing

We’ve identified senior-level talent as the area where we most need to improve employee diversity, as we saw a decline in people of color in senior-level roles of 3.4% over the course of the past year, resulting in just over one quarter of senior-level leaders represented by people of color. While this decline can be attributed, in part, to the advancement of people of color to executive-level leadership positions over the course of the past year it is nonetheless an area where we recognize a clear need for progress.

We’re continuing to make progress to ensure our recruitment and advancement processes contribute to a more equitable agency. Additionally, we’re continuing to evolve our company culture to ensure a more inclusive agency, including advances from rethinking our Business Resource Groups as Culture Collectives which take a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to contributing to value for our agency, clients and people.

White employees have represented a minority of our hires in 2021 at 46.3%. 18.5% of our new hires this year have been Black, with 16.7% Asian, 11.1% Hispanic, and 7.4% two or more races. We’re also hiring more women than men across most ethnicities.

For 2021, we’ve committed to a 100% diverse internship program, collaborating with organizations including the 4A’s MAIP program and AEF’s HBCU Campus Connect to source our 2021 Summer Intern Class.

We’re also expanding our Culture & Operations team, including the addition of Amanda LaBonar, who has transitioned from an Executive Producer role to lead the Make Change framework for New York as Senior Director, Culture & Operations NY. She will be focused exclusively on the development and rollout of Make Change across the R/GA New York operations. In addition, we will be hiring a Manager for our Sao Paulo office.

Our work to advance change outside the agency continues through R/GA Ventures Coalition Venture Studio in support of Black entrepreneurs.

What we still need to change

Over the course of the past twelve months, women were 0.7% more likely to leave R/GA, while men were 2% less likely to leave. Attrition rates across racial and ethnic groups also show we have room for improvement in creating an equitable and inclusive environment which contributes to equal levels of retention. White employees were just over 1% less likely to depart R/GA, while BIPOC employees were 0.23% more likely to leave. The rate of attrition was particularly high among Asian (7% more likely) and Black (4% more likely) employees, as well as employees identifying as Pacific Islander. The 77% attrition rate for this last category reflects the departure of a single individual, which simultaneously speaks to a clear need for further representation at R/GA.

Finally, when we shared our first Make / Change report last year we addressed the inability for employees to identify as gender non-binary and wanted to address the continued absence of this representation in our current data. While we have started to take steps to broaden how employees can self-identify, further diligence is required to find an adequate solution to gathering and sharing this information.




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