Inclusion and Diversity: Momentum Through Collaboration

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"Unity is strength. When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved." -- Mattie Stepanek

Determined not to let a crisis be wasted, or allow another moment of pain pass into distant memory, the groups started talking in early Summer and ultimately agreed that while all efforts were independently vital, there was much to be gained by aligning the initiatives as complimentary elements, clarifying the value of each so companies could leverage them more effectively.

"There are many remarkable initiatives and assessments taking place in our industry right now, but sometimes the existence of so many options create confusion about what each one does," said Lynn Branigan, president and CEO of She Runs It. "When we started talking to each other, we quickly realized that there were important differences in our respective offerings, and that there was power in helping the companies and leaders understand the specific business needs each of us can solve."

Simon Fenwick (pictured below), executive vice president of Talent, Equity, and Inclusion, represented 4As during the roundtable session. He talked about the success of the organization's Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP), and how it has propelled thousands of talented young people into the advertising industry for the past 47 years. He also described the Vanguard program, which builds on the MAIP mission by amplifying and catalyzing Black talent at the mid-career mark, where many Black employees get trapped by practices and processes that were not designed to fuel pathways to senior roles.

"Having the opportunity to hear directly from our members and review our existing programs helped us understand the gaps we can fill within our industry," said Fenwick. "Simply showing up together and working together, we can have a stronger impact that will make progress easier to achieve."

Bennett Bennett, a founder of 600 & Rising, discussed the genesis of his organization, which rose up in response to the murder of George Floyd, galvanizing 600+ Black advertising professionals to sign a letter to the industry. The letter outlined 12 actions that 600&Rising wanted ad agencies to take to eradicating systemic racism at their organizations.

"We felt that we could effect change that perhaps the more established industry organizations could not," Bennett said. "There is a place for all of us. We can challenge each other to do better and be better, and this was a welcome conversation."

Lisette Arsuaga, the co-founder of the ANA's Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), was next on the agenda. She outlined the research, tools, and resources (including several playbooks), that AIMM provides to marketers to make them more knowledgeable about multicultural populations. She also detailed seven systemic interventions that marketers and advertising agencies can enact to eradicate systemic racism and institutional bias from their companies.

"We've had incredible conversations with She Runs It and we're looking forward to partnering with them and with others to truly create the change the industry needs," said Arsuaga. "We were delighted to address the consortium members, and we look forward to hosting Lynn Branigan at an upcoming AIMM meeting to share the work of #inclusive100."

Jason Smith (pictured below), chief business officer for Location Sciences, spoke on behalf of a small, independent group of people passionate about creating greater equity and inclusion in the marketing industry. Smith shared an objective perspective, outlining various business needs and gaps then mapping them to the organizations and initiatives that best solve for those needs and fill the gaps.

"Combatting systematic racism in the ad industry requires true and selfless collaboration. Starting with the brands, moving to agencies, and of course broadening to our supplier partners," said Smith. "A mutual commitment to policy, practices, protocols, and transparency - represent the base requirements for change. We're thrilled to see our industry's most influential leaders and trade groups come together and begin the collaborative journey towards zero tolerance for racism and bias. We look forward to seeing the action items and accountability across each of the stakeholders in the coming months."

The final presentation was made by Diversity Best Practices' Teresa Torres, who guided participants through the DBP Index, the tool used by #Inclusive100 that focuses on transparency of demographics, best practices in recruitment, retention and advancements, and culture. She explained how participation in #Inclusive100 and the DBP Index surface actions and best practices that leaders can mirror and duplicate within their own companies.

"It was incredibly energizing to have all of these organizations and so many passionate people convene inside one zoom room," said Branigan. "I think some people think of us as competitive entities, but in reality we are a unified, collaborative resource that is stronger than the sum of its parts."

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