Be motivated by the community
What the last year has shown us is the power of communities working alongside one another, something that’s been particularly prevalent within the creative industries. Gone are the competitive cards to chest attitudes of old and in their place come empathetic businesses and leadership teams reaching out to one another to help the industry progress as one.
“I think community is everything,” Garry says, believing that focus needs to be “on the we and the us, not the I and the me.” This not only extends to the community working within the business but also to the way that the agency engages with external organisations, with the partnerships they form to push for progress. It’s about, she says, “trusting people that don't hold the same exact ideas as us,” those who are “set up to support the change we want to see in our industry.”
This partnership approach is also essential, Garry believes, in making the industry more accessible to the next generation. She says, “by working together, we open up pipelines and points of access to underrepresented talent.” It is with this attitude, Garry notes, that the agency and the work it produces stays both relevant and meaningful.
She highlights the realities of working in the diversity and inclusion space, how much of a toll it can take on one person’s mental health. Her advice is that you need to surround yourself “with a support network that informs your approach, and helps you create the necessary boundaries to protect your mental health.” Build a supportive community around you as a reminder that this work, Garry explains, is “everyone’s responsibility.”
When it comes to being a proactive ally in the push for greater representation, Garry’s advice is clear: “it's about people being as triggered by the experiences of oppression, as those that experience it firsthand.” Because then, she adds, “you're motivated to move, not just out of self, but out of community.”
Creating space for courageous conversations
In a world in which making noise feels like the only way to be heard, it is beholden on businesses to create spaces in which everyone feels empowered to speak up. For Garry, this means listening to what people are asking for, whether that’s through internal surveys, facilitated discussions or appraisals.
Alongside that, she explains, “it's also about having the right policies and processes in place to respond to what we're hearing.” This enables authentic, immediate action to follow insight. Because what educated leaders can help to do, she says, is “raise our collective consciousness” and to ensure that these courageous conversations are never limited.
Garry reflects on the interview process she went through at adam&eve, drawing on a comment that CEO Mat Goff made that she says really stuck out to her. He said, “one thing we do well is fight. We say what we think and we go back and forth until we find a solution, and then we move on.” She says she found the sentiment truly empowering because it suggested that the agency is, as she explains, “open and inviting to that kind of courageous conversation that is needed.”
The important factor within this, believes Garry, is that in fostering a positive and supportive working environment based on mutual respect and ego check, you create space for disagreement, which is vital. It is often within respectful disagreement that you make the most progress. She explains: “part of creating environments where people feel empowered to speak up, is being open to actual disagreement and to perspectives that may challenge you, that may even go against you.” Within that space you can be truly heard, believes Garry, “without fear of reprimand.”