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Zeno Is Now - And Will Always Be - For Everyone

By Barby K. Siegel

Act Together Progress Report

An Important Message From CEO Barby K. Siegel

Dear All:

Nearly one year ago, the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans cast a spotlight on the urgent need for business and others to do better – much better – to combat racism and advance racial diversity, equity and inclusion.  

As a renewed racial justice movement erupted across the country, I realized that I had not fully lived up to the promise of ensuring Zeno indeed be for everyone. I thought what we were doing was enough. But it wasn’t. I didn’t know then what I know now - that Black individuals and people of color at Zeno, and many inside our clients’ organizations, felt lonely and isolated, questioning whether they belonged at our agency or in the communications field. And why in the year 2020 they were still not treated with the same respect and opportunity extended to others, because of the color of their skin.   

Thanks to the kindness of those who were willing to share the reality and pain of their Black experience, I came to understand my role as a White person and business leader with greater clarity. Inspired by valuable input and insight from all of you, we launched Act Together last June – a series of commitments and initiatives to help fight systemic racism and strengthen our efforts for Zeno and the broader communications industry. As I look back on the last 12 months, I am proud of the way we came together -  the promises we made to take action and to undertake the hard work that real change requires.   

We made important strides toward more intentionally embedding at Zeno a greater appreciation for what it means to be truly diverse, equitable and inclusive. We doubled down on our efforts to hire, nurture and advance Black people in their careers – not just in the heat of the moment, but every day going forward. 

In the spirit of action, transparency and accountability, today we are releasing our first Act Together Annual Report. You will see that we are making progress – more in some places than in others. I am heartened by the strengthened infrastructure and resources we put in place to ensure that DE+I effectively informs everything we do. Not a bolt on, but central to who we are and how we show up.   

Below are a few data points to underscore the work we have done - where we are improving and where we need to do more.

  • 58% increase in the number of Black employees at Zeno in the US, representing 9.6% of all new employees hired since June 2020.
  • 23% of our leaders (VP and above) identify as ethnically or racially diverse, and we welcomed an EVP of DE&I to our Global Leadership team. 
  • 86% of our US employees participated in implicit bias training led by Dr. Bentley Gibson, founder of the Bias Adjuster
  • 100% of Zeno employees have DE+I goals as part of their performance assessment. 
  • $135k in pro-bono work benefitted three deserving organizations:  Year Up, the DuSable Museum of African American History and the LAGRANT Foundation.
  • 48% of Zeno’s influencer partners are diverse today, compared to 26% in 2020, with Black influencers accounting for 17% of that growth.  
  • Six Chief Diversity Officers shared openly in an off-the-record, at times raw, conversation about what it takes to drive real, sustainable change inside some of the world’s biggest companies.
  • 92% of employees across North America report feeling supported, seen and heard by Zeno according to an April 2021 survey.

This year was a start.  

Many, many of you contributed to the strides we are making, and for this I am deeply grateful. Thank you for believing in our collective ability to be better and stand up for what is right. Yes, we have more work to do, but we have importantly become far more aware of and focused daily on DE+I, across the many dimensions of our business. On some days it feels like our work is not quite making a dent. But we know every action, big and small, matters.   

Act Together remains our shared responsibility at Zeno and in partnership with our clients and the communications industry. We will not waiver in prioritizing this important work. Zeno is now – and always will be – for everyone.

Stay safe and stay well,

Barby

Download the Act Together Progress Report

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