3% Certified

Introducing 3% Certified

The Independent Agency Auditing for Real Change

After years of being asked “how are we doing?” and “who’s doing better?” from agencies all over the country, 3% Founder, Kat Gordon, realized the ad world is largely well-intentioned around gender-friendliness, but operating without clear direction on how to truly support more women into creative leadership. In order to give agencies a roadmap, she and her team conducted a survey of women in the advertising industry in August of 2015 and presented the findings at The 3% Conference on October 26, 2015 in New York City. Because it’s been proven that the ad world does not have a recruitment problem when it comes to female creatives, but a retention problem, the key goal of the survey was to determine what makes women STAY in creative positions.

The upshot? The things that women cared most about – fair pay, meaningful work and a culture free from sexual harassment and unconscious bias – were directly correlated to how many women were in senior leadership. Or, as Kat herself declared after looking over the research findings: “Oh, I get it! The key to having more women is...having more women.” The solution? We are thrilled to announce 3% Certified, an independent auditing system to support agencies in their effort to retain and promote women into leadership. It requires more than good intentions of gender-friendliness to change long-standing underrepresentation of women in creative leadership -- it requires an honest, unbiased look at what is holding women back and the actionable steps to make real and lasting change.

3% Certified

The What:

Agencies who participate in the 3% Certified program will be audited on the following criteria: Female Leadership

  • how many women are currently in senior leadership roles
  • ratio of male/female Creative Directors
  • turnover ratio by gender
  • exit survey system in place
  • formalized mentorship program
  • existence of a formal women's network (extra points if gatherings include men)

Workplace Equality + Culture

  • maternity/paternity leave policies
  • new parent support services
  • flex-time, part-time and telecommuting options
  • diversity training programs
  • return-to-work programs
  • wage equity strategy and programs in creative department
  • sexual harassment policy

Equal Creative Opportunity

  • male/female ratio of entries into creative award shows
  • depiction of gender in recent produced work for agency clients
  • depiction of diversity on the agency’s own website and social media channels

The audit process will result in one of two outcomes:

Certified PlatinumCertified
3% Certified Platinum 3% Certified
This level of certification will be reserved for agencies whose audit scores are well beyond the benchmarks set by 3% for a healthy and prosperous environment for female creatives. This level of certification will be given to any agency whose overall audit score falls at or beyond the benchmarks set by 3% for a healthy and prosperous environment for female creatives. 

To become 3% Certified, agencies need not score top marks in every category but will aim to have an overall score that falls within healthy benchmarks. Agencies that achieve certification will be given a 3% seal of approval based on their level that can be used in recruitment materials, social media, annual reports, agency blogs or elsewhere. Their agency logos will also be featured on a dedicated page on The 3% Conference website. This will enable creatives and clients to make informed decisions about which agencies are demonstrating leadership around diversity.

How It Works:

During a 3-month vetting period, agencies will unpack their policies, programs, systems, and the cultural intangibles around women in their workplaces in partnership with 3%. Our team of advisors will work with each agency to assess how they stack up on the criteria. Based on self-reported data, in-person interviews, and external research, the participating agency will be evaluated. Also included will be a dedicated time period during which all agency employees are able to provide anonymous feedback about their experience working in the agency environment via an outside feedback channel. Once the evaluation has been completed, the agency will be awarded the appropriate level of 3% Certified. In addition, the agency will receive a concrete roadmap that includes a set of recommended solutions and strategies for improvement. Agencies must apply for re-evaluation every two years to keep their certification status current.

Next Steps:

Are you frustrated you keep losing your high potential female talent? Are you ready to see your work be more aligned with the marketplace by having more diverse creative teams? Are you eager to support more women into leadership? Is your agency ready to take a hard look at what you are doing right and where you have room to improve? If you are interested in being on the cutting of edge of change for our industry, please contact Kat Gordon and a member of our certification team will be in touch shortly.