You’d think that by the time you make it to the “C-suite” -- which, for me, happened just a few weeks ago -- that you’d have everything figured out. Not necessarily. No matter how much one has grown in her or his career, there is always so much more to learn. At the recent She Runs It Annual Multicultural Alliance Bootcamp, where I had the honor of joining a panel called “Journey to the C-Suite,” learn is exactly what I did.
While the event focused on bringing a stronger effort around diversity and inclusion to our industry, I learned about so much more. We spoke about advocating for oneself, finding one’s community, the pay-offs of taking the road less traveled and even shared financial tips and resources!
Three big takeaways I won’t soon forget:
Be Yourself and Make Passion Work for You
Pam El, Chief Marketing Officer of the NBA, opened the event and gave an incredible talk about her journey to where she is today, in her dream job! In her hilarious and heartwarming discussion, Pam spoke about how she aspired to be a cheerleader in high school but never tried out because she lacked the confidence to do so. After confiding this to her principal, he exclaimed that she would’ve been the first to make the team! Luckily, Pam was able to channel her spirit and passion into a role that brought her even greater pride than cheerleading. She became the beloved school mascot. The lesson here? Be yourself. All you have control over is who you are -- regardless of whether you are the mascot or the cheerleader -- and if you stay true to yourself and your passions, you’ll find success and have a lot more fun.
In my humble opinion, being your authentic self is a whole lot easier than exhausting energy fronting. We have more important ways to be productive!
Expand the Definition of Diversity
Following Pam El was a tough gig, but I took the stage alongside Sheila Marmon (CEO of Mirror Digital and pictured above right, next to me) and Sheila Buckley (industry pioneer, adtech sales maven and recent She Runs It board chair) to discuss our own personal and professional journeys. The Sheilas and I spoke about how diversity across all levels of an organization should not be limited to gender, ethnicity or skin color. It is also about style. I’m not talking about the way we dress and look. I’m referring to tone, perspective and approaches. It’s diversity of thought, of processes and ways of working; it’s left brain and right brain and everything in between and is the manner in which you operate and bring ideas to the table.
If you’re mainly surrounded by people who act and think the same way you do, it is that much harder to expand your horizons and grow by being challenged to approach things differently. If our industry only rewards those who act and think the same way -- and if only those people are making it to the C-suite -- we’ve got a problem because we’re limiting ourselves to a very narrow view of options in a very multifaceted industry; one that is undergoing tremendous change, where roles and responsibilities are shifting to and between various parties.
Always surround yourself with people who bring diverse ways of working to the table, who can see and grow the range of possibilities.
Give Credit as a Way to Create a Culture of Inclusion
Not only should we push ourselves out of our comfort zones to collaborate with people who bring diverse viewpoints to the table, we also must celebrate and lift them up.
One of the best ways we can foster inclusion is by doing something incredibly simple: Give credit to the individuals who do great work or bring great ideas to the table. If we do this regularly, we foster a culture of inclusiveness, positivity and collaboration. There are tons of people who are not comfortable with self-promotion, and when the act of giving people credit becomes systemic -- a part of your regular work routine -- you’re enabling more channels for new perspectives and successes to be seen and celebrated. This, in turn, will motivate more teams and individuals to contribute, knowing that they’ll be recognized for their hard work.
Marmon cited the Obama administration, where female staffers created a strategy they called “amplification” to ensure they were receiving proper credit for their ideas. According to this 2016 article from The Cut, in meetings “when a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This [amplification] forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.” If we all practice “amplification” and proper acknowledgement on a regular basis within our organizations, we’re each doing our part to move the needle in a positive direction.
While all of us in the room acknowledged that there is still a great deal of progress to be made in advancing diversity and inclusion in our industry and beyond, steady momentum is happening through programs like MAIP, Diversity Best Practices’ Inclusion Diversity Accountability Consortium (IDAC), and Publicis Media’s own Multicultural Talent Pipeline.
We are fortunate to have hardworking, generous people like Traci Dinkins and Jennifer Colon, co-chairs of the Multicultural Alliance, and the women at She Runs It, who make important events like this accessible to all levels within our industry’s talent pool.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for collaborating on solutions to our industry diversity issues. But I’m confident that when we meet again next year for the 5th Annual Multicultural Alliance Bootcamp, we’ll have made progress.
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