Summary List Placement
- Chris Kenna is CEO and founder of Brand Advance, an advertising company that advises brands on appealing to a more diverse consumer base.
- In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, companies are re-evaluating their approach to inclusion and diversity.
- A Mckinsey & Co report suggests diversified firms outperform their competitors by 36%, however the survey showed a wide gap between inclusion and diversity leaders and firms which have yet to support diversity.
- Kenna shared his top five tips for CEOs to improve inclusion and diversity with Business Insider. He urged leaders to take responsibility, and said the “time for talking has passed”.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In 2017, Chris Kenna set up Brand Advance, a media company that advises more than 350 advertisers on how to appeal to a more diverse consumer base. Now, his clients include Unilever, L’Oreal, Amazon, and Mercedes.
Kenna, a black, gay entrepreneur, was shortlisted for Chief Executive of the Year at the UK Inclusive Companies Awards 2019 and is a board member of OUTvertising, a lobby group that advocates the representation of LGBTQ+ people in marketing and advertising.
“Diverse work groups are more productive than non-diverse work groups,” he told Business Insider, “That diversity of culture, that diversity of thought, diversity of everything really, just helps a company grow throughout,” he said.
Firms with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue worldwide, according to Boston Consulting Group. A May Mckinsey & Co study of more than 1,000 companies in 15 countries found that more ethnically and culturally diverse companies outperform their competitors by 36%.
Yet Mckinsey’s data showed that just a third of companies have improved their top-team diversity since 2014. Since 2017, representation of ethnic minorities in executive teams worldwide had risen only slightly, from 12% to 14%, the report said.
In an interview with Business Insider, Kenna listed five actions all CEOs should take to improve diversity and inclusion in their business. Read on to find out more.
Less talk, more action
Getting on board with diversity doesn’t mean simply signing a supportive letter. “We need more. We need tangible actions,” Kenna said. Companies cannot afford to return to the status quo, he said — and the more diverse a firm is, the more representative of their consumers it will be.
“The job of any market is to get that brand in front of as many people as possible and make them want to buy the product. That’s the job. So if you’ve got things blocking that, then I think they need to be removed.”
Find external partners
If you need help, seek it out. Find partners outside your company that can run internal and external audits, produce reports on your workforce, and help your brand reach all demographics. Kenna’s firm does exactly this in the advertising sector.
Working with outsiders highlights opportunities to improve, and as a leader, you can seize on that to drive change.
Listen to employees from under-represented groups
“We need to lead equality from the front,” Kenna said. CEOs should liaise personally with their employees at every level of your business and work closely with management teams to “empower everyone to evaluate and make the changes necessary”.
“I’m a Black, gay CEO and I need to listen even to my LGBTQ+ and black and brown employees — so if you are a white leader, listen more,” he said.
Own your privilege, and ask questions
If you’re a leader, understand that you’re in a position of privilege, especially if you’re white. Use that to ask questions of your employees. You’ll get a better understanding of who you are working with and what their concerns are.
Inevitably, you’ll also get a better picture of your end consumer, and be able to create a more dynamic team that performs better.
Correct mistakes, and own up to them
Admit that you are behind and correct your mistakes, because “you’re in it for the long haul,” Kenna said.
Don’t simply blame a section of your team for any existing wrongdoing and bias, such as HR for job applications. They have responsibility — but a leader must foster understanding within their teams. If your employees have made a mistake, find a polite way to say “Yes, you have done it wrong, but let’s learn, grow and correct,” Kenna said.
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Chris Kenna is a CEO and diversity expert who counts Unilever, L'Oréal, and Amazon among his clients. He shares the steps every leader should take to make their company more inclusive