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Beyond the Numbers: Assessing our DEI Progress

Heather Kernahan

When I think about how to measure progress, I want to see numbers. What percent change did we see, are we closing in on our targets? There’s no question that when it comes to measuring the progress of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy, the numbers and data matter. And yet, there’s so much more to be learned beyond the numbers.  

Today, we’re launching our first DEI Progress Report that highlights the programs and initiatives we’ve implemented and the progress against our goals.  

In June 2020, in the wake of the George Floyd murder and ensuing protests on racial inequity, we set out to integrate our DEI strategy with our three-year business plan. In doing so, we committed to bringing a DEI lens to every part of our business, with three areas of focus: creating a more diverse team, fostering a culture of inclusion and driving positive, lasting change in our industry.  

For over 20 years, Hotwire has been a people-first culture intent on building a diverse community of open-minded individuals who work together to achieve limitless success. Building DEI into our core business has held us more accountable to this vision.  

In this report, you’ll see updates across our three focus areas. The numbers related to our racial, ethnic and gender diversity tell us that our work to revamp our recruiting and hiring processes is delivering a change—we are more ethnically diverse and gender balanced than we were the previous year. That’s progress. When segmenting the data, we can also see that our senior team is less diverse than the rest of our team. We are now setting specific goals and identifying new ways to address that imbalance.  

With regards to inclusivity, the data shows an increase in the number of us at Hotwire who do not feel understood by colleagues and able to be ourselves at work. These numbers signal critical work we have ahead and the need for new and different approaches to how we address inclusivity within a growing global team. These are important learnings that are helping to reshape our strategy.  

As I assess the data and reflect on the last year and a half, I find am most proud of the immeasurable—the remarkable number of people at Hotwire who have stepped up, spoken up, and showed up along the way.  

  • Stepping up to help launch new programs like the Hotwire Ignite Possibility Program (HIPP), a global  program directing US$1million of our services to organizations led by or supporting people of color, and Hotwire Into Tech, a new online course aimed at broadening and diversifying the pool of tech marketing and communications talent.  
  • Speaking up to challenge our thinking, provide valuable feedback, recommend new partners, and start bold initiatives like Margarita Bly in our Spain office,a think-tank aimed at paving the way for future female tech communicators, and The Twin Cities PR BIPOC Career Explorer, an externship program for student who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and interested in public relations and communications. 
  • Showing up to the many new trainings on unconscious bias and workplace microaggressions, to the listening and coaching sessions and meetings about our new recruiting and hiring practices, and as volunteer leaders and allies for our People of Color and LGBTQIA+ Subcommittees. 

I am also proud of the times people have said “have you thought about…?” or “I have an idea.”  None of this is reflected in the numbers, but the impact on our progress overall has been profound.  

We’ve got a lot of work ahead and I am determined to see the data reflect that our work has paid off. To get there—to be a diverse community of people who can say we feel valued and supported to experience limitless success, and feel seen, understood, and heard for who we are—we have to keep stepping up, speaking up, and showing up. And not just all of us at Hotwire, we need everyone—our clients, partners, and industry peers—to come together. We invite you to join us on this journey to turn progress into lasting impact.  

Please read our DEI Progress Report to learn more about what we’re up to and the opportunity ahead, and share you feedback, ideas, and questions with us at  

Heather Kernahan  

CEO, Hotwire Global Communications