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Diversity is Essential

Essence is committed to fostering inclusivity and championing diversity because we believe different perspectives aren’t optional; they’re essential.

At Essence, we're bringing this commitment to life by: 

Establishing clear goals for diversity on our leadership teams and holding ourselves accountable for achieving and maintaining them.

Our goals include gender parity in senior leadership and increased representation of multicultural employees in leadership overall.

Incentivizing inclusive behavior.

Essence’s performance management process has six core behaviors built into it that promote and incentivize inclusivity in the way we interact with each other:

  • Being accountable

  • Pulling together

  • Being consciously inclusive

  • Experimenting and evolving

  • Trusting, respecting, and encouraging one another; and,

  • Communicating consciously

Developing empathetic and inclusive leaders.

Essence’s leadership teams undergo comprehensive training to help them better understand and relate to the diverse needs and contexts of all Essentials. This includes training on how to give and receive feedback, Unconscious Bias training and participation in “Ascend,” a program that further leads Essentials through the concepts of privilege, fragility, and identity to provide a safe space for brave conversations about gender, sexuality, and race. To date, 66% of Essentials SVP and above have completed Ascend training. In 2020, Essentials in the U.S. completed 5,237 hours in training related to diversity and belonging.

Encouraging all Essentials to participate in ongoing learning programs designed to broaden perspectives.

All Essentials are invited to participate in WPP Safe Room discussions, ongoing sessions on 'Covering' and the Black employee experience, as well as 'Courageous Conversations,' a reverse mentoring program designed to break down the barriers between junior and senior Essentials. Essentials are also encouraged to take part in Essence Immersion Days, which introduce diverse audiences to careers at Essence and the advertising industry.

Providing allyship, advocacy, training, and community support to multicultural Essentials.

Essence offers career advocacy and management training for Black and BAMH Essentials through custom development programs that accelerate leadership preparedness and industry initiatives like the 4As Vanguard Program. Essence also supports its Pride, BIPOC, Womxn, and Parents communities across its offices by investing in Essence Community Groups.

Championing inclusivity and mitigating against bias in our recruiting process.

Essence maintains an equal candidate slate policy, but goes further by anonymizing the names and addresses of candidates during screening and evaluating potential hires for “culture add” as opposed to “culture fit.” We also operate EMERGE, an apprenticeship program that recruits at least 50% of its candidates from communities currently underrepresented at Essence.

Continually reviewing and updating our diversity, equity, and inclusion policies.

Essence’s Inclusion Collective brings Essence Community Group members and senior leadership together in a non-hierarchical structure to review progress toward our goals and adapt policy accordingly.

Using our influence in the industry to support multicultural publishers and networks, call out unrepresentative or culturally insensitive work when we see it, and accelerate the impact of aligned nonprofit organizations in partnership with our clients and through our Accelerating Social Good working group.

Essence also commits to creating opportunities for Essentials from underrepresented groups to raise their profile in the industry and ensures balance and inclusive representation in its award entries, media coverage, and panel and event participation.

Stronger together

Essence Community Groups (ECGs) ensure Essentials feel cherished, connected to others, and empowered to advance a radically inclusive culture at Essence. ECGs provide ways for Essentials to connect with others who have shared interests and backgrounds and provide opportunities for Essentials from underrepresented communities to share experiences, draw strength from one another, and gain access to personal and professional development opportunities.

Currently, Essentials participate in the following ECGs across our offices in London, New York, Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, Bogota, Dusseldorf, and Singapore.

  • Pride at Essence: Supports the LGBTQIA+ community at Essence and provides education and volunteer opportunities to all Essentials. [email protected] creates opportunities to share common experiences, raise awareness about issues faced by the community, provide support through education and events, and impact local communities through charity work and volunteering.

  • POC at Essence: Builds community and supports the development of people of color and those from multicultural backgrounds at Essence in North America. By always centering the experience of its community, [email protected] creates opportunities for its members to connect through celebrations of heritage, intentional professional development, and discussions that spotlight cultural moments.

  • The Essence Village: A London-based community for Essentials committed to driving Black, Asian and Mixed Heritage diversity, celebrations and awareness across Essence and the advertising industry. Within the community, members are encouraged to align with one of 3 pillars: Celebrate, Discuss, and Action. Between the three pillars, we ensure that we are focusing on celebrating the different cultures and what it means to be a part of them, discussing and educating on similarities and differences; and holding the business accountable for the pledges that have been made.

  • Return on Women: RoW supports women by demonstrating commitment to their further growth and success within Essence; creating an environment for networking that builds relationships; creating opportunities for women to have visibility with senior leadership; and driving a program for women to recognize and capitalize on unique strengths and attributes that female leaders can bring to the table.

  • Womxn at Essence: Builds connections among womxn and allies of gender equity within Essence and the larger GroupM/WPP organization. Initiatives may be womxn specific (such as mentoring or negotiation skill building) or may be open to the wider community (such as initiatives focused on allyship).

  • Parents at Essence: A support network for parents and families at Essence to share commonalities and differences, advocate for policy improvements, create programs and initiatives that help support our parent community and educate others. A community that normalizes the challenges faced by parents in order to reduce stigma, increase empathy & inclusion by non-parent colleagues and create a workplace where parents can bring their full, authentic selves.

Content we recommend

Seeing White, by Scene on Radio

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10 Things You’re Actually Saying When You Ignore Someone’s Gender Pronouns

Why Empathy is the Force that Moves a Business Forward

Nanette, by Hannah Gadsby

American Son


Paris is Burning

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