KEY TAKE OUTS
Bring it back to the business case. When it comes to speaking to leadership about the importance of D&I, Leila Siddiqi, Associate Director Diversity at the IPA, emphasises the importance of bringing it back to the business case, of demonstrating its commercial value. “Today the most progressive brands and agencies in the world are using [D&I] as a fundamental tool to drive sales…and attract and retain top talent,” she explains.
Diversity is a powerful drive of creativity. Yolanta Boti, Creative at Ogilvy UK emphasises that, for agencies particularly, “having diversity of thought and diversity of the kind of people you employ is beneficial.” For Boti, as one of the only Black creative teams in Ogilvy, she and her partner decided to use that difference to bring brands into the agency that they felt passionately about; that they felt comfortable working on. This has only served to open up the agency’s portfolio of brands and diversify the audiences that they are speaking to.
Building a movement not a marketing moment. The sad question that many people from underrepresented communities find themselves asking is, is this industry even for me? “Being in the epicentre of this universe, I do feel that the culture we’ve been building for years is the absolutely opposite of inclusivity,” Siddiqi explains. That’s why, as Asad Dhunna, Founder of the Unmistakables explains, the Unmistakables “talk about making diversity everyone’s business because it’s only when everyone carries the responsibility that you can change culture and behaviours.”
Employees shouldn’t feel powerless. When Boti started at Ogilvy, she and some other junior creatives alongside allies in the business worked to set up Ogilvy Roots, an internal initiative that is dedicated to championing greater ethnic and cultural diversity within the advertising industry and its creative output. She focuses on the power of creating change from the ground up believing that, whether junior and senior, “we can all learn from each other to create an inclusive environment when we can all feel seen and heard.”
Prioritise D&I. For too long, work around D&I has been seen as a side project. But, as Siddiqi explained so eloquently, businesses need to be prioritising it. First and foremost, she says, hire someone for whom D&I is their sole focus, so they can educate the business in turn. Secondly, she says, “you must have a D&I policy, an updated one.” This will impact both the casting process and the internal workings of a business. And thirdly, her advice to the industry is to seek inspiration from those who are putting D&I at the heart of their business.
Collaborate, listen & offer up your privilege. Fundamentally it comes down to recognising the importance of listening to other perspectives. “If you have someone in your organisation who’s a minority, listen to them. Listen to the kind of organisation your staff want to work in,” says Boti. The power of active listening makes for more powerful allies, to collaborate and offer up positions of privilege to make diversity a business priority rather than an afterthought or a problem to be fixed.
To read a full write up of the event, visit the dedicated BITE page, Uncomfortable Conversations: Episode 1