Zeno Group outlines agency’s DEI progress

The firm’s first Act Together report shows the number of Black employees and diverse executives both increased slightly in the last year.

Siegel: Zeno made 'progress with a small p' on diversity in the past year.
Siegel: Zeno made 'progress with a small p' on diversity in the past year.

NEW YORK: Zeno Group has released its first Act Together annual report, outlining progress made since committing to diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 

Zeno CEO Barby Siegel described its work improving diversity at the firm as "progress with a small 'p,'" with more in some places than others.

"In the last year, we have dramatically strengthened our infrastructure and resources to ensure that DEI informs all we do," she said. "Not a bolt on, but central to who we are and how we show up. As we move into year two of our Act Together commitments, we are laser-focused on recruiting and retaining people of color and helping them to develop their careers into decision-making and leadership ranks."

Zeno has increased the number of Black employees by 58%, with the percentage of employees who identify as Black at 5.1%, up from 3.9% in 2020, according to the Act Together Annual Report. 

Of those in leadership roles of VP or higher, 23% identify as ethnically or racially diverse, compared to 21.7% last year. This includes hiring an EVP and head of DEI who is a member of the global leadership team.

After the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, Siegel said she listened when her Black employees and clients spoke up about feeling lonely and isolated and questioned how they fit in the agency or communications field.  

To address these concerns, Zeno launched Act Together last June. The project is a series of commitments and initiatives to fight systemic racism and strengthen the efforts at the agency and the broader communications industry.

The commitments included reducing implicit biases in hiring practices through anonymous resumes, deepening relationships with historically Black colleges and universities and diverse industry associations, partnering with DEI experts to reach more candidates of color and redesigning the agency's intern-selection process. 

In the last year, Zeno said it has also devoted more than 560 hours, a $135,000 commitment, to support Year Up, the DuSable Museum of African-American History and Chicago's Together We Heal Summit. The agency also allocated approximately $100,000 in spending to minority-owned and diverse businesses since June 2020, with plans to at least triple this amount in 2022. 

Looking toward the end of 2021 and 2022, Zeno needs to do more to optimize recruiting, hiring and retention of people of color, building on its work to create an inclusive culture, according to Andréa Richardson, EVP of DEI.

"We are developing internal and external strategies to reach these goals and strengthening relationships with historically Black colleges and other community partners to help bring great diverse talent to Zeno Group," Richardson said. "We are working to ensure that Zeno is a place where all of our talent can thrive."

Zeno's revenue grew 8% in 2020 to $85.9 million, according to the PRWeek Agency Business Report 2021.

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