Setting Diverse Seats at the Havas Media Table

By Havas Media InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Setting Diverse Seats at the Havas Media Table

So far in my career at MediaVillage, where I’m frequently working to amplify stories about Generation Z, diversity and young people in the first five years of a media career (1stFive), it has been good to learn that there are organizations out there that are dedicated to increasing diversity and inclusion.

As a woman of color in the media industry, I believe it’s important to connect with diverse individuals and give them the opportunity to see similar faces in the spaces that they want to be in.  Representation is empowering and makes all the difference.  When a young professional can see someone like themselves where they want to be, it’s reaffirming.  That’s why it was great to learn about a tasteful recruitment initiative by Havas Media North America for the agency as well as the industry at large.  Like many other companies, Havas believes in community and celebrating unity in diversity, so their solution was to join Harlem EatUp! and digestthe lack of diversity in the advertising and media industry.

A colorful and delicious festival of food, music, art and culture, Harlem EatUp! took place on May 18th in one of New York’s most historic and iconic neighborhoods – Harlem.  Why partner with a food and wine festival?  Because culinary tradition is one of the important and unifying expressions of one’s culture and it is easily shared and appreciated.  Families, strangers and communities can all make meaningful connections at the table.

The idea was for Havas Media to build on their inclusion initiatives and continue the celebration of diversity beyond Black History Month.  They wanted to help those entering the marketplace to visualize themselves in the advertising industry, so they will feel more comfortable in applying themselves and joining the workforce.  So, Havas Media invited participants into their headquarters to an event titled Havas Seat at the Table.  To my peers and me, this was a cool way to reach a dynamic community and spark a meaningful conversation surrounding diversity issues in the workplace today.

“I live in Harlem, have been to the Harlem EatUp! festival the last two years, and I was delighted Havas committed to participating this year,” said Lucien Etori, Strategy Director for Havas New York.  “It was a no-brainer for me to get involved in this project.  I mean, what a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that we don’t just talk about making brands meaningful, we go out in the world and we show how we do it.”

Etori added that Havas is often called upon to translate culture for their clients.  “It made total synergistic sense for us to be here, right in the middle of culture, in a place where we can truly engage with the local community, build connections, ignite dynamic spontaneous conversations and open our doors to an exciting new set of opportunities to get inspired,” he said.

It seemed like a natural fit for Havas to have a presence at Harlem EatUp! because the concept of community speaks to their “Village” model – to bring employees of all backgrounds under one roof, as a family, to create meaningful work.  (They refer to their offices as “villages.”)  Havas Media took part in the event with a booth full of swag giveaways and complimentary Spots NYC cupcakes.  But that’s not all.  The cupcakes contained QR codes, which led to HavasEatUp.com.  The website featured information on diversity in the advertising and media industry as well as a sign-up sheet through which participants were encouraged to join workshops at Havas’ New York headquarters.  Scheduled to be held in early fall, the workshops will include a tour of the building, a meeting with industry professionals, presentations from the staff and the opportunity to learn about leadership.  In addition, Havas has chosen one lucky business owner to receive a one-hour pro bono strategy session with their award-winning team of advertising and marketing professionals.

“I chose to work with Harlem EatUp! because I believe in Havas Media's mission of making meaningful brands,” said Ashley Boone, Talent Management Associate at Havas Media New York.  “We have to practice what we preach and put a true purpose behind what we do.  I knew it would be a completely different arena and allow us to genuinely connect with members of the community.”

Havas received tremendous feedback on their participation at the festival.  They connected with students as young as 11 years old, recent college graduates, educators and Millennials looking for a career change.  Over 100 interested people signed up to take part in the workshop and Havas Media is excited to invite the members of the Harlem community to “Havas Seat at the Table.”

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