Our team stumbled on this article a couple of days ago and it inspired us to write about our company’s stance and recent efforts towards creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace (DEI) – and crucially – a more diverse, equitable and inclusive product.
The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has released an interim report detailing global survey results showing the varying degree to which different groups, including women, LGBTQ+, ethnic minorities and the disabled consider improvements have been made at their workplace around the world, be it through positions, salary, and most importantly, lived experiences in the workplace. Among other things, it shows that the most salient examples of discrimination are still around age, gender, and family status. The worst experiences by far are related by disabled respondents. And women and ethnic minorities are still underrepresented in positions of leadership.
At Aeterna Labs we feel strongly about fostering an inclusive environment. We know that as a contextual advertising provider, the more diverse our team, and the more people feel like they belong, the better they can work and produce stronger results. Only a team diverse in lived experiences, backgrounds, and interests can consistently account for the wide net of topics we need to deliver the best possible product. And most recently, we were confronted with a conundrum: a client who wanted segments relating to specific ethnic minorities and lifestyles.
D.E. & I. Product
Well, this sparked a wholesome debate within our tightly knit team, and everyone contributed. And we realised one thing: we already were covering those groups the client needed, simply by being thorough in our topical conception. For example, say we were looking for ‘winter’ contexts, we’d make sure not just to look for ‘santa claus’ or ‘menorah’, but also for ‘shab-e-barat/shab e-barat’, ‘winter solstice’, ‘pandoro’, ‘villancico’, or in Germany, ‘winterdays’ for the LGBTQ+ community, etc.
That’s not to say, all our work is done. This is only the start of our company's efforts towards DEI, and we’re committed to taking steps to make sure this remains a priority for us. Part of our process as a company is our weekly recurring ‘Ethics’ portion of the all-hands meeting, where anyone is invited to voice concerns regarding ethical dilemmas related (or loosely related) to our work. This is a luxury we can afford ourselves as a smaller team, where we can take the time to make sure everyone’s opinions are not just heard, but valued & potentially implemented. As companies grow, it can become harder to create that space, which should remain a priority.
In the end, as a contextual advertising provider, we don’t target specific end readers. We target contexts. Ultimately, anyone of any background, ability, ethnicity, age or gender can and will be reading articles ranging from topics as diverse as the passing of a new law to the rare sighting of Sir David’s long-nosed echidna. And since we don’t believe it’s ethical to track your cookies to figure out whether you’re the ‘type’ of person to want to see xyz advertisements, we don’t. Instead, we rely on the fact that if you’re reading an article about the 10 best holiday destinations, you’re likely looking to (or daydreaming about) travel. And that’s something anyone can relate to!
How does your workplace confront DEI?
Is our approach to focus on product AS MUCH AS internal processes relevant?
We’d love to discuss how your company or workplace commits to DEI.