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Why settle for good enough?

How a cutting-edge marketing firm made a good culture great When the upstart marketing firm No Fixed Address (NFA) embarked on a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion journey with the help of Breakfast Culture, they were already proud of their vibrant corporate culture and diverse workforce, says Founder and CEO Dave Lafond.

“The whole concept of NFA,” Lafond told Adweek in September 2021, “was to liberate the creativity, liberate the talent and then give everybody room and autonomy.” He recognized, however, that even the most inclusive culture could still contain potential "blind spots” as it evolves.

“We chose Breakfast Culture and Jefferson Darrell’s team because they bring an inherent understanding of the marketing communications agency world, combined with both theoretical and practical diversity, equity and inclusion experience”

  • Dave LaFond, CEO No Fixed Address

Breakfast Culture’s five-phase DEI audit process began with collecting demographic data on what NFA calls its “integrated grid” of satellite agencies and their nearly 200 employees in Toronto, Montreal and New York, then a series of extensive employee engagement surveys created in partnership with Prompta.AI technology. After the initial results, NFA reported, “We are better than most agencies, but better than most is not good enough,” and within the survey responses, their employees agreed. Selected comments included:

“We are still hiring white men into higher positions and BIPoC into interns and junior positions.”

“I’m glad NFA realizes that we need an unbiased third party to help assess us because we wouldn’t be able to do it accurately ourselves.”

“I have not had any diversity conversations with other team members until Breakfast Culture got involved.”

In subsequent strategy sessions with Breakfast Culture, NFA leadership decided on four priority areas to address:

  1. D&I Vision – without a formal vision from the company, people are left to interpret.

  2. Leaders’ Actions – leaders who participated in D&I activities were praised but less overt initiatives from leadership were not being considered.

  3. Job Descriptions – Sporadic and inconsistent titles were a concern.

  4. Hiring Practices – Updated efforts to be more inclusive were not being recognized, a “void” in communication.

20.8% of Gen Z Americans identify as LGBTQ -- doubling since 2017 -- with 10.5% of millennials, 4.2% of Gen X and 2.6% of Baby Boomers

“A core challenge for us,” says Lafond, “has been mentoring…we need to apply rigour to hiring and hold ourselves accountable.” As NFA’s new president Mark Carpenter told strategy magazine in November 2021, "The focus is always on making sure that our people and our clients are taken care of.”

In strategy’s 2021 Agency of the Year Awards, NFA scored Bronze in the Digital category and Gold in PR. With a wide list of clients that includes Netflix, Molson Coors, Eli Lilly and Questrade, Dave Lafond says the NFA grid has seen “accelerated growth” and praises the work of his teams as they continue their DEI conversations. “As an award-winning marketing agency, we have built a strong foundation but have a continued commitment to developing an inclusive culture,” he says, “After getting to know one another, it became clear Breakfast Culture was the right partner for us as we embark on this journey.”

Happy to jump on a call to discuss how Breakfast Culture can help with your organizational diversity and inclusion journey. Schedule a 30-minute meeting with Jefferson today: Let's Break Some Eggs! – Scott Dagostino, JEDI Consultant, Breakfast Culture™Inc.

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