Verizon, together with Interpublic Group, Publicis and WPP, has announced a new marketing initiative that aims to increase racial and gender diversity in the creative supply chain, and prevent racism, bias and stereotypes in advertising and media. The efforts are an expansion of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement.
The first step in Verizon’s four-part diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) plan includes a commitment to spend over 30 percent with diverse-owned video production companies, over 30 percent with diverse-owned experiential production companies and over 30 percent with diverse-owned print production companies.
Verizon is extending this work to programs that inspire long-term growth, starting with a series called Multicultural Publisher Summits, launching in May. The program will give multicultural targeted, owned and operated media companies the chance to partner with Verizon and access insights from the brand’s leaders.
Pointing to data from Q4, Verizon reports that people of color comprised 37.1 percent of the combined Verizon marketing and agency teams, with new hires for people of color up to 49 percent. Plus, women made up nearly 51 percent of Verizon’s marketing and agency teams, with new women hires accounting for 54.1 percent.
The second focus of Verizon’s marketing plan includes promoting an inclusive work environment and diverse talent retention. Building on the Verizon ‘adfellows’ program, which supports entry-level, diverse marketers, the company is now addressing mid-level agency talent retention with a new six-month program, AdDisruptors. With this, diverse talent with five to eight years of experience on Verizon’s agency’s teams will have access to speakers and mentoring from thought leaders.
To remain accountable for producing creative that excludes racism, bias and stereotypes, Verizon’s third DE&I action includes the creation of a tool that measures the representation of race, gender, ethnicity and identity in ads—Verizon Diversity Inclusion Equality Measure tool.
Verizon also says it will utilize the Gender Equality Measure (GEM) tool and partner with the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) #SeeHer campaign to create ongoing training and boot camps for internal and agency teams, with the goal of ensuring females are represented in content. These teams will also be required to take content bias training.
In strengthening its accountability, Verizon has also formed advisory councils, Inclusive Work Panels, which comprises diverse team members who are tasked with pressure-testing creative.
Lastly, on the brand safety front, Verizon says it has reworked its marketing policies with guidance from the World Federation of Advertisers’ Global Alliance for Responsible Media. That means stronger prohibitions against harassment, hate speech, privacy and misinformation, as well as greater transparency about how Verizon’s DE&I values will impact its marketing partnerships in the future.