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The advertising industry faces billing on at least two fronts. On the consumer side, an increasingly diverse market expects the brands they support to take civic action to promote their consumers' values. This shift in consumer expectations has put pressure on the employee side, where diversity figures in both simple positions and C-Suite positions are not only bleak but also embarrassing.
To meet these emerging market demands, creative agencies need to make rapid progress to attract, retain, and promote colored people. That's easier said than done.
Diversity initiatives are decades old and have led to small, albeit important, profits. Job pipelines and platforms are often hampered by prejudicial hiring practices. Meanwhile, colored people are striving more than ever to gain access to an area that they know affects public perception.
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So how do we get where we want to go? I think the answer is to ask the right questions. At Q + A (Quantasy and Associates), the 60-member full-service creative agency of which I am the CEO, our managers and employees reflect the demographics of our city and the tan of the country.
We discovered early on that it is a hidden force to ask new questions. While there is an understandable instinct to deal with the immediate questions, a common approach delivers common results. If the advertising industry continues to ask the same questions about diversity and inclusion, we will continue to get the same dark answers. We need new questions.
Here are three questions I think you should ask if you are a creative agency that wants to identify the gaps in diversity in your company.
1. Who are we?
As with a biological organism, your brand identity is determined by both DNA and the environment (or context). In this analogy, your agency's DNA can be reduced to its basic values, and your environment is defined as the place where your agency's sphere of influence is active in culture. So your values and context determine your brand behavior as surely as seeds, sunlight, and earth produce flowers.
What are your agency's core values? Are they specifically listed in your agency's mission? Do you have a commitment to a better organized world? Is this mission evangelized across the agency?
At Q + A, our DNA is collaborative, creative, entrepreneurial and committed to setting the market back so that people and culture are more important than profit. You can see it in both our work and our work.
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2. What should our story be?
It was said that your brand is what they say about you when you leave the room. In many ways, it is true that the story of your agency is in the hands (and ears) of the people who hear and re-tell it. However, it is also true that the history of your brand is consolidated through the principle and consistent action of your agency. In addition, your future story may (and should) be different from your past and / or current stories.
At Q + A it is our commitment to steer the culture in the right direction. In terms of our hiring, storage and promotion practices, this means centering and empowering people and color communities. It is part of our brand manifesto: “We appreciate the culture and the people who create it. We value real stories of struggle, endurance and triumph no matter where they come from. Our primary goal is to disrupt the industry by shifting existing performance dynamics and transferring resources to developers of all types. “We want our work to be important not only for our customers, but for the whole world.
What do you say about your agency? What should they say What values and behaviors do you bring there?
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3. What problems do we want to address?
There are often many stages on the career paths of your employees. Your creative agency can solve problems in this way from training and hiring right through to hiring, mentoring, retaining and promoting your talents. What problems do colored people have before they come to your agency? How could the opportunity for professional development and higher remuneration play a role in your decisions about where to stay? How could your C-Suite more accurately reflect the story that your agency wants to tell about itself?
At Q + A we have identified both short and long term goals. In the short term, we aggressively recruited, retained and promoted colored people in our four areas
Expertise: content, strategy, design and platform development. In the long term, we founded the Quantasy Foundation, an internship program in the Los Angeles area that works with high school girls interested in the creative services industry.
Good questions often result in more questions. On the other side of these questions are new answers. Persist in following these new questions. As a result, we have and are bigger, stronger, better and more profitable. Why not do the same thing?
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