To Create Pathways to More Diversity, FreeWheel Advances Industry Connections

By Comcast Advertising InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: To Create Pathways to More Diversity, FreeWheel Advances Industry Connections

Following last spring's nationwide protests for racial equality and social justice, media companies and brands have redoubled their efforts to advance diversity. To accomplish that objective, companies need to identify, recruit and support diverse talent, as well as identify partners with BIPOC representation and ownership.

To provide support, Comcast's FreeWheel published a list of organizations curated by the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video's (FWC) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee titled "BIPOC Advertising, Tech & Marketing Orgs. You Need to Know." The list features organizations that offer mentorship opportunities, hiring and recruitment, thought leadership and content creation. (BIPOC is Black, Indigenous and People of Color.)

By offering easy access to information, the FWC aims to raise the visibility of underrepresented community organizations, and create pathways to more diversity in advertising, media, marketing and technology.

"There are groups out there people might not be aware of that are doing great things to increase diversity and also to increase the differences in thought leadership to make better products for our users and as well as our clients," said Jermaine Roseman, a council member and senior director of advanced ad solutions at A+E Networks.

Several well-established groups lead the way. For more than four decades, The National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications, or NAMIC, has worked to educate and advocate for multi-ethnic diversity across the communications industry. NAMIC partners with leading companies to identify and develop diverse talent. To advance their careers, members have access to education, training and resources.

Similarly, the International Radio & Television Society (IRTS) Foundation offers mentorship programs, internships, industry events and academic training to promote diversity in media. For 35 years, the foundation has worked to make media more representative of today's multicultural society and modern media consumers.

Across the media and advertising industries, companies are dedicated to increasing diversity in their ranks and hiring more people of color. When hiring managers say they can't find qualified candidates of color, Darren Sherriff, vice president, advertising & technology solutions at Fox and another council member, contends they aren't looking hard enough. He challenges managers to look beyond their social network and tap into the resources offered by D&I organizations.

"These organizations help prepare the next generation for these types of roles," he said. "Lists like this help break through that mold and help bring awareness that you shouldn't just recruit someone because you know them, you should recruit someone because they are qualified and capable."

To that end, several organizations are dedicated to advancing diversity in both entry level and C-suites. The National Black MBA Association focuses on growth opportunities for African American MBA-holders from their days as students to entrepreneurs and professionals.

For women of color, #HireBlack is an HR and recruitment imitative that has helped 10,000 black women get trained, hired and promoted. The group started by assisting 19 women with their job search has grown to a network of more than 3,000 members.

Specialty organizations that serve marketing and advertising technology and sales and technology are gaining strength.

"The goal of a lot of these organizations is how to break down walls to educate folks who are interested in media, but might only think about the creative side, and don't understand there is a business sector of media and how to get into it," Roseman said,

The Ad Tech Collective provides opportunities for black individuals in ad tech to connect and collaborate. The group also offers research, professional development and events around the ad tech industry.

To promote diversity in sales, the Media Sales Institute recruits and trains sales candidates who want to work in media sales. MSI recruits and educates high-quality prospects and helps nurture future sales executives. For radio and television broadcasters, the National Association of Black-owned Broadcasters (NABOB) is the industry's only group for African American station owners. NABOB strives to provide a voice for black broadcasters and address their specific concerns.

On the creative side, Blacks Who Design brings together black designers and highlights their work. Their objective is to inspire new designers and promote BIPOC design work. ADCOLOR spotlights diversity and inclusion in creative businesses. It helps nurture young professionals trying to advance their career, and also provides mentorship and professional development support. Similarly, Hue advances people of color in marketing, with an eye to help them reach executive ranks.

Nurturing younger generations is a key path to building future diversity. For aspiring ad executives, AdCamp, run by the American Advertising Federation, provides high school students with an entrée to the advertising industry. Students engage in education activities, corporate immersion and even interactions with real clients. For engineering candidates, the National Society of Black Engineers, one of the largest student-governed organizations in the country, promotes careers in engineering and technology, and offers support for high school and college students aspiring to those fields.

Sherriff implored companies to support such programs. "If we're not investing in those candidates at an early age, of course the well will run dry down the road," he said.

From well-established groups like NAMIC and IRTS to newer entrants that serve a specific niche, diversity-focused groups are critical to creating a more diverse advertising and marketing industry and making businesses more reflective of the consumers that they serve. The FreeWheel Council is advancing their efforts, and also working to inspire change at member companies.

"We can leverage our resources and the networks we have to educate leaders in companies, so they can communicate with their organizations and help diversify," said Roseman.

"These councils only really work as much as we can share and leverage each other to enact change," Sherriff added. "Hopefully then there is a steady stream of change that happens."

To see the full list of BIPOC Advertising, Tech & Markeitng organizations  click here.

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