- The 3% Movement started as a conference for women in advertising and launched an auditing service in 2015.
- According to a pitch deck obtained by Business Insider, it charges fees starting at $25,000 for its official “certification,” which it pitches as a way to help clients win new business and retain talent.
- Five agencies have received the certification so far: VMLY&R, 72andSunny, Swift, Possible, and Forsman & Bodenfors.
- 3% is expanding and sees big opportunity in targeting tech companies.
- Cultural diversity consulting is a growing industry; the newest entry is Have Her Back, a firm backed by the holding company IPG.
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Advertising has earned a reputation for being less than friendly to working women. In the past two years, the #MeToo movement hit big-name firms like The Martin Agency, Droga5, and Carrot, exposing misogyny in the industry.
Now, the industry has spawned a new group of companies that’s carved out a niche working for clients that want to broadcast their sensitivity to female consumers and employees alike.
Read more: Gillette knew that its new #MeToo ad would prompt backlash. Here’s why the company still went ahead with it.
This week saw the official launch of Have Her Back, a female-run-and-owned consultancy spun off of PR agency Golin with a minority investment from Golin’s parent, holding company giant IPG. The new business, led by former executives from Golin and PepsiCo, says it was “designed to help companies in the post-#MeToo environment ensure that they have the right programs, products, and systems in place to provide environments where women can grow.”
A growing number of companies provide cultural diversity consulting
Another example is The Nova Collective, founded by several women who formerly worked at Chicago-area production companies and now say they help clients “harness the power of the total workforce.”
The best known of these companies is The 3% Movement, a for-profit started by veteran copywriter Kat Gordon whose name refers to an estimate that, as of 2008, only 3 out of 100 ad agency creative directors were women (today, the company says its own research shows that figure is 29%).
The 3% Movement began as an events company best known for the eponymous conference now in its eighth year. Since 2015, it has sold a trademarked “certification” service that amounts to a voluntary audit for ad agencies looking to prove that they live up to the organization’s self-defined standards for culture, leadership, and equal opportunity.
Now, according to a spokesperson, The 3% Movement is looking to expand beyond agencies to tech and other industries.
Business Insider acquired two decks from the organization that lay out its key selling points. The first, a program overview pitch sent to interested agencies, frames the certification process as a way for clients to help win new business and retain talent.
The 3% Movement also gave Business Insider slides from an updated version of its overview deck that shows how it plans to expand its focus beyond gender to company culture in general.
The company still highlights gender-specific services such as the Next Gen Female Creative Leaders Program and the Manbassadors Leadership Initiative, designed to help men better support their female colleagues.
The 3% Movement charges fees starting at $25,000
According to the first deck, The 3% Movement charges agency clients $25,000 to undergo its basic certification process, which was initially pitched as a monthlong audit but which has since expanded to 12 weeks.
One source whose agency underwent the process estimated the total costs, after accounting for 3% employees’ travel and other additional fees, at about $40,000, while describing that number as lower than what one might expect to pay a traditional consulting firm for similar services.
The company also sells a higher “platinum certification” for an unspecified cost, saying only that it varies based on the size of the client.
The 3% spokesperson confirmed that only five ad agencies — VMLY&R, 72andSunny, Swift, Possible, and Forsman & Bodenfors — have completed the standard certification since 2015, though an unspecified number have gone through the process and failed.
Businesses earn 3%’s certification by taking steps including improving the ratio of women to men in leadership, reviewing wage equity practices, creating formal mentorship programs for female and minority employees, and improving the depictions of gender on their websites and social media accounts.
No company has earned platinum status, which the most recent deck defines as “well beyond the benchmarks set by 3% for a healthy, prosperous, and inclusive culture.” The representative said this is “largely due to the lack of racial/ethnic diversity” at American ad agencies.
Companies that don’t pass 3%’s process can reapply, and the spokesperson said the reasons for their failure determine whether they must pay additional fees. Updated maternity leave policies can be a quick fix, for example, while “a broken culture” will require more time and research.
Agencies said the program provides a stamp of legitimacy
The first source whose agency went through the program compared it to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification, which allows companies to publicly showcase their dedication to sustainability.
“Our 3% Certification and pay parity in the New York office are slide 2 and 3 of our credentials deck,” said Michele Prota, global board member of the agency Forsman & Bodenfors, which completed the process last November.
A representative for that agency believes the certification has helped it win new business, noting that a prospective client recently asked for information about the 3% Movement at the end of a creative pitch that ultimately saw the company award a project to Forsman & Bodenfors. Prota also said that a client recently hired her as a consultant while undergoing internal issues related to gender equity on the basis of the certification.
The executive referenced earlier who went through the certification process said The 3% Movement did not make any specific promises about helping her agency bring on new business or talent. Ultimately, however, she believes the experience provided a valuable outsider’s view of the company’s inner workings.
“Clients like [third-party] data,” she said regarding the organization’s stamp of approval. “In a lot of ways it legitimized us.”
The second deck is a customized welcome packet detailing the steps ahead for one unnamed agency that signed on. Scroll down to see all three decks.
SEE ALSO: Huge consulting firms are coming after the ad agency business — here’s how agencies are fighting back