Curiosity Is the First Integrated Independent Agency Member of ANA’s SeeHer Initiative

The Cincinnati-based firm hopes to build a more equitable creative industry

Cincinnati-based agency Curiosity announced the partnership today. SeeHer, Curiosity

Cincinnati-based independent agency Curiosity today announced that it has joined SeeHer, an initiative of the Association of National Advertisers that aims to improve the representation and portrayal of women and girls in media and advertising.

SeeHer was founded in 2016 with an initial goal to increase accurate representation of women and girls in media by 20% by 2020—the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage. The collective hit that goal in 2018, subsequently expanding its mission to achieving an 80% bias-free media ecosystem by 2030. Currently, it boasts more than 1,600 members, which represent both U.S. and international brands, marketing solutions providers and nonprofit fundraisers.

Curiosity’s announcement makes it the first integrated independent agency to join the initiative as a member. The move will give the agency access to specialized staff training, which will be implemented across every role within the agency, and SeeHer’s Gender Equality Measure (GEM), a data-driven methodology for identifying bias in media.

While the GEM scoring tool has dozens of implementations, at Curiosity it will allow the agency to analyze current and past work for clients to ensure that any oversights in representation are addressed in future projects. It also ensures that diversity, equity and inclusion is considered at every level of a project, from research and survey respondents to creative directors and writers.

“We know that gender equality is not just good for the bottom line, but it’s also great for the soul,” said Curiosity chief development officer Ashley Walters. “Our mission is to champion diversity by acknowledging bias, removing barriers and creating opportunity for inclusion, which our hope is will transform Curiosity, transform our communities, and ultimately transform our industry.”

With a staff of 65% women, Curiosity didn’t need any convincing that joining SeeHer would fit well within the broader goals of the organization. The agency consistently works to ensure that its operations reflect its goals of equitable gender and racial representation at every level.

For example, on a recent project for personal care brand Native, the agency worked with Native to send a joint letter to the production house requesting that all hiring for the project reflect at least 15% Black representation and at least another 15% POC representation for on- and off-camera creative work. “Our production team should be a celebration of diversity and inclusion,” the letter read. “We hope this project gives someone who may not have received the opportunity or been the first choice for a hire the experience they will need to change their future.”

Having access to the GEM score analysis will allow Curiosity to take that work a step further, analyzing projects to identify blind spots and guide clients toward better and more diverse representation with regard to both gender and race.

“Curiosity has such passion for our mission; we are excited to see how they implement SeeHer into their everyday practices,” said SeeHer president Nadine Karp McHugh. “It takes the united commitment of marketers, media and technology companies, large and independent media, and creative agencies for us to create a bias-free media ecosystem.”

Ultimately, Curiosity president and chief client officer Trey Harness said the agency hopes to contribute to building a world where initiatives like SeeHer are no longer necessary because equitable representation is the norm.

“I’m so glad there are all of these really big, powerful entities that are a part of this movement and believe in it,” Harness said. “It’s literally going to take everyone.”

@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.