Make / Change: Q3 2021 US Diversity Data Update

This summer, we took a look back at the first year of Make / Change at R/GA, noting both the progress we’d made in our culture over the program’s inaugural year and the areas which still represented an opportunity to meet the needs of our people.

Since then, we’ve continued to make progress toward becoming a more diverse and inclusive company with recruitment and retention efforts. Over the course of the past quarter, we both introduced new initiatives and identified areas where we’re still falling short. While this year has presented R/GA with significant opportunities for positive change, we also continue to struggle with the same issues companies across our industry and beyond are facing in a year full of unique challenges and foundational shifts. R/GA has embraced change over the past year–and that has accelerated in the past few months, as we’ve committed to reshaping the way we work for a new era, and welcomed a fresh class of talent.

Who We Are

While R/GA has a ways to go to become a truly equitable company, we continued to make strides in becoming more representative of the population as a whole in Q3, and now nearly four out of ten R/GA employees in the U.S. identify as people of color.

BIPOC talent increased 1.6% percent from Q2 and now represents 39.2% of U.S. employees across all talent levels. Of the 39.2% of our talent who identify as people of color:

  • 13.6% identify as Asian
  • 11.2% identity as Hispanic
  • 7.7% identify as Black
  • 6.7% identify as Multiracial

A closer look at individual seniority levels, however, reveals there’s still plenty of work left to be done at the top. While we’re approaching equal representation of BIPOC talent at the junior- (56.7%) and mid-levels (47.4%), white employees still represent a majority of those in senior and executive roles.

Gender representation remains largely balanced overall at R/GA across U.S. offices, with women representing 53.8% of talent (an increase of 0.3% on the quarter). Women are currently overrepresented as a proportion of junior-level talent (71.7%) yet slightly underrepresented as a proportion of senior (47.4%) and executive-level (44.7%) talent.

As with most companies across the industry, talent attrition was up for R/GA, with a 3.3% increase to 28.3% in Q3. In light of the fact that, according to a recent Gallup Poll, 48% of Americans are considering changing jobs, this increase in departing talent is unsurprising given the circumstances, but still something we plan to address going forward. On the positive side, for the first time, the attrition rate for BIPOC talent was slightly lower than that of talent overall, at -2% compared to our overall attrition rate.

After noting the senior talent level as a specific area for improvement last quarter, BIPOC representation increased 1.7% compared to Q2. At the same time, attrition was the main contributor to decreased representation of people of color at the mid and executive talent levels, with declines of 1.2% in each category.

What’s Changing

Perhaps the most foundational cultural change at R/GA is our commitment to a truly hybrid work model going forward — one without mandated office attendance. This presents new opportunities for recruitment and reflects R/GA’s evolution as a connected global company. It also presents new challenges in ensuring that remote employees, those coming into the offices, and those pursuing some balance in between are all treated equitably.

Overall, we can point to progress in the diversity of our recruitment efforts. People of color represent over half (51%) of our new hires year-to-date, with this rate increasing 9.1% over the past quarter. Hiring alone is not enough to make impactful, lasting change, however. We need to work to create an inclusive culture where everyone feels safe, comfortable, and empowered to succeed.

This year, we also brought back our internship program, with the goal of making it fully representative of BIPOC talent as a part of our Make / Room pillar. While we fell short of that ambitious target, setting high goals helped us succeed at making internships a gateway to equal representation at R/GA, with 96% of our interns coming from communities historically underrepresented at the company. On top of that, we were able to extend the program into employment opportunities for a significant portion of our interns, hiring 13 of 17 eligible interns. We believe that, historically, industry efforts around equity and diversity have set goals that don’t measure up to the immense task of undoing systemic inequities. We’d rather push for meaningful change by setting challenging goals which might not be immediately attainable, and admit when we can’t reach them, than set more moderate goals that don’t go far enough. Going forward, we hope to employ lessons from this approach across a number of other initiatives.

Last quarter, we expanded our engagement survey as part of our Make / Clear initiative to better understand our employees and their needs. This included offering employees expanded self-identification values for ethnicity and gender — directly addressing a shortcoming highlighted last quarter by providing employees the opportunity to self-identify as nonbinary. For the first time, we also provided our employees access to the results of the global survey, furthering our commitment to being transparent and accountable for change.The survey gives us a better understanding of who we are and how we can continue to improve the culture at R/GA.

We previously mentioned the work being done in support of Black founders by R/GA Ventures Coalition Studio, which took off in new ways over the course of the past four months. After vetting 89 Coalition companies in the first half of the year, R/GA global and U.S. leaders met with a dozen Coalition Ventures members in Q3 to find opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships between these companies, our clients, and R/GA’s internal capabilities. Ventures Coalition Studio is planning another such event bringing together member companies and R/GA leadership in the coming months.

What We Still Need to Change

We’ve identified representation of BIPOC talent at the senior (29.3%) and executive (23.7%) levels as important areas for continual improvement in our recruitment and retention efforts. Only 2.7% of senior-level talent identified as Black (as well as 9.2% of executive-level talent), while just 3.9% and 5.3% of executive-level talent identified as Asian or Hispanic, respectively.

63% of new senior-level hires year-to-date were white, making diversity in the recruitment and promotion of senior talent a primary area for us to address in order to make meaningful progress towards equal representation in more senior roles at R/GA.

The proportion of women in executive leadership roles decreased nearly 3% (-2.8%) for the quarter, a step backward in an area where we already needed to improve. We need to increase the representation of women in more senior roles through recruitment, retention, and promotion. There’s also a gender imbalance at the junior level, where we need to increase representation of men (currently 28.3%, down 3.4% on the quarter) through recruitment, and as a secondary effect of providing opportunities for women in junior roles to advance to more senior positions increasing the proportional representation of men in junior roles.

A closer, more intersectional look at attrition rates for Q3 highlights additional key areas to address. Of particular note were attrition rates of around or over one third for executive BIPOC women (32%) and senior BIPOC women (37.6%), while the overall attrition rate for women in senior roles fell to 30.9%.

Lastly, while our engagement survey gave us a clearer picture of our employee talent pool, we still need to expand the questions to adequately provide opportunities for R/GA’s LGBTQ+ staff to self-identify — something we’ll be addressing in the next iteration of our survey.

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