Episode 2: Diversity — a journey of sustained and strategic action
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Episode 2: Diversity — a journey of sustained and strategic actionOctober 2023
Brands are making positive strides to better reflect the multicultural and nuanced world we live in, but it will take collective action and a persistent, sustained effort for them to truly drive the change the world needs to see.
Here, global director of beer, Baileys, and Smirnoff at Diageo*, Grainne Wafer, breaks down why it’s crucial that DEI doesn’t just become another hot topic. Instead, we must be patient, persistent, and structured. And always work together.
This is the second episode of ‘Marketing Now & Next’, our new mini-series in collaboration with The Drum. Watch the full video to learn how frameworks can help drive DEI transformation, why CMOs are uniquely positioned to spearhead this, and more.
*Ads are only shown to over 18s and publisher controls are available for alcohol content ads.
Jenni Baker: Hello and welcome to "Marketing Now & Next," a three-part miniseries from The Drum and Think with Google. I'm Jenni Baker, the Drum's senior editor and over this series, I'll be putting marketing and creative leaders in the spotlight to uncover what's on their minds now - in 2023, and next - in 2024, and beyond, as we explore and unpack practical advice and insights on how to build better marketing for the future.
Jenni Baker: So hi, Grainne. Welcome.
Grainne Wafer: Hello. Thank you for having me.
Jenni Baker: Now you've been on quite a journey since joining Diageo in 1997. Wow. And now global director of Beer, Baileys, and Smirnoff.
Grainne Wafer: That's right.
Jenni Baker: And you're also a very passionate advocate for diversity and inclusivity. And you're the Diageo leader of Progressive Marketing, representative and partner of the WFA D&I Task Force, Creative Equals, and the UN on the Stereotype Alliance. Wow.
Grainne Wafer: (Laughs)
Jenni Baker: Quite a lot going on there. But look, what we want to talk about today is diversity and inclusivity in marketing. So in 2023, right now, what does diversity mean in 2023? If we think of where we've come from, and where we are now?
Grainne Wafer: I mean, look, I think it's been a long journey to this point. And the journey is by no means over. And I think there are the two things we have to reflect on. My journey with this progressive marketing agenda started about five or six years ago when Beyond Stereotype Alliance here at Cannes decided to form as an alliance to tackle all of those harmful stereotypes in advertising. And that came about because a Geena Davis report at the time had said that despite all of the efforts of the industry, nothing had changed in the last decade.
Jenni Baker: Wow.
Grainne Wafer: So I'm going there, that's nearly 20 years ago, right? And what exactly has changed? And where exactly are we right now? And look, the reality is, I think we've seen a huge effort and alliance and gathering and momentum by the industry around this topic. And yes, right? And we all think we're doing a great job, right?
Recent Kantar study says most marketeers think they are doing a superb job on representing diversity and inclusivity in all its forms in advertising. And yet 90% of consumers still feel they're not represented. So there is a gap between what we think we're doing, what we're giving ourselves accolades for as an industry, and actually the reality of what's showing up in the work.
So what that says to me is that it is a long journey. It takes persistent sustained effort. And our job is by no means done. So I think that's where we're at now. We should feel proud about the collective intent from the industry around this. But we have to get clear that it's about collective action. And that, I think, is where we're poised right now.
Jenni Baker: And that's the opportunity. And I'd love to just talk a bit about Diageo's journey because you've led a real sort of transformation here. So can you tell me a bit about your diversity framework and progressive gender portrayal program? And just to give us a sense of what impact these initiatives are having?
Grainne Wafer: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think I'd start with Diageo itself, right? So Diageo, huge global business operating around many geographies, different cultures, different traditions, different employee sets. So diversity is kind of at the core of what we're about. And our corporate purpose is about celebrating life every day, everywhere, right? So at its core, that's about bringing everybody together around the table.
And in terms of within Diageo, we have very ambitious and have had for a number of years, targets in terms of female representation at board and executive leadership level, ethnicity representation. I'm proud to say that 60% of our board are female. And I think about a third of them are ethnically diverse, our executive team about half. And we have a whole host of market-leading policies and practices, everything from fertility to menopause to six months paid parental leave, regardless of how you become a parent.
So I think that's kind of important context to set for the journey because it meant that this is something that's fundamental to our purpose as a company, fundamental to our consumer base across the world and referenced and recognized in all our policies. In terms of marketing then, we set out this journey, as I said, probably about five or six years ago. And we started with a long, hard look at ourselves. And I think that's the first place you have to start when you're seeking to, you know, create change.
And we did an audit of all of our work across the world. And we wanted to see, how are we doing, where did we stand, et cetera? And what we learned was, look, different things are important in different cultures. There are different concerns in different cultures, and it's important to be really empathetic to that and to understand that not everybody is starting from the same place. And we use that learning to create what we call the progressive marketing framework. It started initially with gender, but now encompasses all aspects of diversity across ethnicity, disability, et cetera.
And there are four elements of that, the first of which is about representation, which is pretty straightforward, thinking about who's in the ad. And I remember one of the first training modules we ran, we were looking at a piece of work that we had set in a bar, very traditional kind of alcohol context. And everyone was saying, oh no, that's really representative. It's fantastic. Look at those women. And I was like, yeah, but count the women. There were four women in the ad. And there were maybe 30 men in that bar. But because there was women, people were going, oh, we're representative.
So we were actually saying, no, you have to really think about this. You have to really challenge your own bias because again, there are studies that show that people perceive a room to be 50/50 with only, I think, about 30% females in it. So people over qualify the level of gender representation. I'm sure that's across other aspects as well. So representation, really important. People need to see themselves in the work that we create.
The second of which is they need to see themselves in a way, where they're not just there as tokenism in terms of representation. They need to have really authentic, truthful, characterful stories. And we need to make sure that we're telling stories of them as rounded people, rounded cast in their own right. The next thing is, obviously, they need to have agency. And again, very simple things that we take for granted in some of our sort of advertising approaches. Like, for example, you, if you start looking at ads now on TV, you'll be surprised how many times somebody passes a woman a drink rather than a woman reach for a drink herself. Well, we obviously reach for a drink-- we obviously reach for drinks ourselves.
Jenni Baker: Yeah.
Grainne Wafer: But it's an interesting thing. And then the last one, which is prospective. And that's because we're thinking about, where are we pointing the camera? And who are we imagining is behind the camera? And who are we imagining the viewer is? And so many of the times, as advertisers, we assume that the viewer is a carbon copy of ourselves. And that's not the case. And we, therefore, point the camera in a way that we expect them to see it as us. So perspective is a very subtle, nuanced and challenging thing to get right. But it's one that we've found has unlocked other areas for us as well.
Jenni Baker: Wow, that's amazing. So the framework. Okay, so how do you then embed that across well, internally, you said you're a massive global business. But also, we feel like your agency partners, and, yeah, how do you embed that across?
Grainne Wafer: We set out a mandate that said, we want to have our 1,200 marketeers and all of our agencies and creative partners trained in this by the end of the year. We ask people to use the framework in the assessment of all of the work and assessment of scripts. And not to use it as a tick box exercise but to use it, I think, properly as a way of prompting discussion and making decisions and choices.
And look, there are always going to be trade offs because you don't want cookie cutter creative, either. You want it to be actually really brilliant creative. So that's how we've done it. In terms of more broadly how we sort of drive the progressive marketing agenda is we have a central team, which I sponsor, and then a group of amazing leaders across the marketing community in Diageo drive this agenda in partnership with me across media, across our supply chain, across procurement, and across internal culture.
Our relationships with our employee resource groups, or ERGs, and obviously externally in the industry, there's a lot of collective action. And no one person can do it all. So we all pair up with different task force. And actually, in that collectivity is incredible power. So that sits at a sort of a sponsorship level. But right in every market we operate, we have a progressive marketing champion, whose job it is to, you know for example, if you're in Colombia to represent this agenda on the advertising forums, in conversations, but also in the market itself in terms of making sure that the marketing and the progressive marketing agenda is flourishing and kept alive and championed.
And even more importantly, because it's so hard to sometimes see examples of fantastic work. And these people are also the people who bring back to us all of the brilliant work that's happening around the world. So that's a beautiful moment as well where we get to share that with the entire 1,400 marketeers around the world.
Jenni Baker: I can imagine that would be great. So okay, you mentioned brilliant work, creative. How do you then get that mixture, that ethos comes across in the creative work that you're putting out into the world? How does it play a part in making the right creative choices, I guess?
Grainne Wafer: Yeah, look, I think first of all, it really helps in starting the conversation in the right place and helping to sort of work in partnership with our agencies. And this has been like a big mandate, I think, from Diageo in terms of really creating a step change. It doesn't just happen with this framework. We've other things we do that I think really help in terms of getting the creative to new heights, one of which is, again, very shortly after we created the framework, we recognized that who's behind the camera really, really matters, really matters.
So we mandated that from there on in on our triple-bid process. There had to be, at that time, one female director. We've now expanded that to one diverse candidate for each of our triple bids. And as a result now, 47% of our global giant work has been directed by a woman. A beautiful piece of work I'll highlight from Cameroon, which is Her Home Advantage. It's a story of the Cameroonian Female Football League, which Guinness is a partner of. And at the time, we wanted to work with this incredible Cameroonian female director. And we could see that she was going to bring something very special to the work. But she hadn't done anything of this scale before. And we wanted to make sure that she was going to be successful and that this was going to be a brilliant production and that she was going to get it right.
So we partnered her with some more experienced Nigerian directors. And with that, actually this wonderful collective came, where she was in the driving seat. But she was also fully supported to make what has been a spectacular piece of work. The other thing that's interesting in that, of course, is that affects the entire supply chain. Because she brought female art directors, female production crew, female editors. And now all of a sudden, we had an entirely diverse collective behind the work. And that made the work, honestly, stunning creative. So to me, that's when the magic happens.
Jenni Baker: That's a great example to share, definitely sort of leading the way. So that's great. So it's really great to hear what Diageo is doing, what you said as a broader collective. But I guess if we think like now to the industry overall, what advice can we offer them? What challenges do we still need to overcome? And what considerations should be factored in?
Grainne Wafer: I think the thing for the industry to really remember is we can be quite impatient as an industry, right? This is not something that's going to happen overnight, right? So I think that's the first thing is, and every year, we're at Cannes and there's another hot topic. And this can't become just another hot topic, right? So I think patience is one of the things I'm going to say is I think so important. Collective effort, we couldn't have done any of the things we did in Diageo without support from Beyond Stereotype Alliance, which kicked off this for us, without support from organizations like Creative Equals, which helped us really understand how we were going to change our supply chain in terms of female and diverse representation at leadership level within the industry.
So I think that sort of collective effort as an industry, so patience, collective effort, a sense of ambition, and I think offsetting really bold targets and going - we have to get to the point where 90% of consumers are saying that they feel represented in the work that we're making in the industry, right? That has to be the shift we have to make, rather than the other way around.
Jenni Baker: Yeah. And it is a journey as you said. It's not going to happen overnight. So then how does all of this affect the role of the CMO, I guess, moving forward? What's changed? For marketing leaders, what sort of considerations do they have to think about?
Grainne Wafer: I mean, I think this is part of a sort of a broader change that's happening in terms of how we think about marketing. I have always thought of the best marketeers as being the general manager of their brand. And they're thinking as much about the performance. They're thinking about the creative. They're thinking about what it means to consumers. And I think they're fundamentally tasked with bringing the voice of the consumer into the boardroom.
That the consumer's voice is heard. That it's represented. And that we understand not just where the sentiment is now, but where the consumer is going. Because that's the lead for any business, to be able to understand and follow its consumers. So I think that's where I sort of see the change happening. But I think it's exciting, right? Because it's giving a much more fundamental role for marketeers in every boardroom.
Jenni Baker: Yeah, it's great, elevating the role of the CMO for sure. So you're obviously part of lots of initiatives. You've done some great work at Diageo. In terms of what comes next, are there any particular initiatives that you're working on, or?
Grainne Wafer: Another pillar, which is increasing, I think, in importance, which is thinking about the context as much as the creative. So the media context. We call that media activism. So for example, in that space, a campaign I'll draw on is the Guinness Rugby 1 with Never Settle, where we discovered that shockingly, only 4% of sports coverage was dedicated to the women's rugby game. So we said, we have to change that, right? We're Guinness, and we've been a partner of rugby and it's so much a part of our ethos. We need to tackle that. So we set out a plan to change that.
And we're still on that journey. But again, activating for contextual change and to have more diverse publishers, more diverse media owners backed, supported, invested in. And what's interesting is obviously, that sometimes creates a bit of tension with reach, right? Because you've got that sort of question, how are we doing that? So we're backing that media agenda in a big way, as well. And then the final thing that we've been pushing into in the last 12 months, which I think is very exciting, is the whole area of disability. And Jeremy, my colleague, was talking about a panel on all the work we've done across our brand homes.
And so, for example, Johnnie Walker Princes Street and across Destination Scotland and how we've worked with disability organizations to make sure that they are incredibly inclusive, welcoming, accessible spaces. So much more to do, I would say. And 12, 18 months ago, we hadn't even thought of some of those initiatives. So I am fully sure that in six months' time, we'll be going, oh my goodness, and we have to do this, and we must do this. So I don't think it's an agenda that's fixed. I think it's an agenda that's only growing.
Jenni Baker: And yeah, it'll evolve--
Grainne Wafer: Exactly.
Jenni Baker: --with the consumers. So look, I think you will have inspired a lot of marketers there with your journey what you've been on. And if you could then share maybe some actionable advice, or something practical, that people watching might be able to take back to their business to really ensure that diversity, inclusivity is at the heart of their marketing teams? What would that be?
Grainne Wafer: I think there's a few things. I think first of all, start from a place of authenticity and empathy. So understand where you are yourself, where your corporation is, where your brands are, and the role that you and your corporation and your brands have played already. So hold up the mirror. Take a look at where you are. Take a look at where you've been, and think about the jobs there that you need to do and the start place that you're coming from.
The second thing I'd say is, this isn't easy, okay? So it takes a strategic, thoughtful approach with input from experts, okay? We are not the experts in D&I, right? Even after five or six years of this journey. So I work with people who are experts, who tell me where I'm getting it wrong. Tell us where we're getting it wrong. Tell us where we're getting it right, what we need to do more of. So I would say open your contact book to hear from expertise, right? And then systemize the change. You can't do it with just a bold creative piece of content. You have to think about your supply chain. You have to think about your training. You have to think about your culture. You have to think about your own teams.
How diverse are the teams that you're running? Are you backing diverse candidates for the next role that comes up in your own team? Are you taking a risk on some people? So think about us systemizing the change. And I think those three things help also make sure that when you are talking about D&I, that you know where you are, and that you're coming from a place of deep authenticity and a bit of humility, I think, as to where we are as an industry.
Jenni Baker: Yeah. No, that's really great advice. And I guess then as you said, it is a bit of a journey. It's not going to happen overnight, but one thing that marketers could do right now, what would you say?
Grainne Wafer: I would say, take a long, hard look into your own brands, the history of your own brands. Understand how you have used, for example, gender stereotypes throughout the course of your advertising history, and therefore, where you're starting from. And I think that's a good place for every marketeer to start. And where I always start is with myself, go with the data, what's in front of you. What can you learn from that? And where do you need to go from there?
Jenni Baker: Well, thank you so much, Grainne. That's been an inspiring conversation. Thank you so much for your time.
Grainne Wafer: You're very welcome.
Jenni Baker: Thanks for watching. And you can catch the other episodes in this series on Data and Creativity on the Think with Google YouTube page and The Drum TV.
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