Random question at 3% Conference: The C-suite weighs in on inclusion

At this year’s 3% Conference, we asked leaders in attendance one of six random questions around inclusion that focused on not just gender but race and more. The questions we asked were challenging and the answers were thoughtful, interesting and illuminating.

In this first roundup of videos, we caught up with some senior agency and creative leaders to get their views on how inclusion can be transformative.

Carter Murray, chief executive at FCB, has not been shy about getting in front of the conversation around gender and diversity in the industry. He’s also been about action since his appointment telling The Drum: "I feel responsible to make sure that they [women] feel they can work somewhere that they can believe in.”

And that ethos extends beyond gender. When questioned about women of color in the industry, Murray concedes that it’s not a level playing field and they are facing different and more complicated challenges. In his mind, it starts with listening and understanding what women of color go through every day.

Beyond understanding, though, it takes an important component of celebrating the “brilliant women of color who have broken through and who are doing amazing things.”

Karen Kaplan, chief executive officer at Hill Holliday in Boston, when asked about the responsibility that men have to press for gender equality, believes that it all comes down to power.

For the longest time, men have retained and grown their power base. For things to move forward, someone needs to give up and shift some of that power. Indeed, the metrics around inclusion matter, but as Kaplan says, “until we achieve a true power shift, under-represented groups are never going to the equal.”

When asked the same question, Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide, notes that men have been the root cause of the problem in the first place and that they have the responsibility “to dismantle this.”

After illustrating what DDB is doing internally, Reinhard concedes that it will take many things to move the industry forward and that, instead of simply talking about it, more must be done to move forward to tangible action.

Judy Jackson, Wunderman’s global chief talent officer, also believes that it all comes down to action. And it’s not just the larger-scale programs but rather the moments in the day-to-day that can make a difference.

Additionally, in Jackson’s eyes, it’s a shared responsibility. “[It’s] an opportunity to reach out, to help, to mentor, take action, take ownership,” she says.

As far as the changes the entire industry can take, Lincoln Bjorkman, Wunderman’s global chief creative officer, acknowledges that creativity has been the domain of white men and that is should be opened up significantly.

And the end result is what is continuing to be illustrated by agencies and brands: better, more effective work.

“When we all [include everyone], we know the truth,” he says. “We get to much better work [and] our clients stand up and freak out in a good way and, frankly, it’s a much more fun environment.”

Libby Brockoff, co-founder and chief executive officer of Odysseus Arms, when asked about why, with all of the issues that women face, she chooses to remain, was highly optimistic and looking towards what’s next as opposed to the past.

“[It’s] the promise that we’re creating the new future,” she says. “We have the best job ever. Staying in it means giving people access to the craft because, once we shut down this conversation of inclusion, we’re going to open up creativity again and be able to include people in the wonderful things we get to do.”

Wunderman proudly supports The Drum’s 3% Conference coverage. We believe true diversity does not check boxes, it checks itself. http://wunderman.com/

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Doug Zanger

Doug Zanger is the Americas editor for The Drum. He leads the Americas editorial team’s content activity in the growing region. Based in Portland, Oregon, he is committed to sharing the most meaningful stories that benefit the global industry and its people. A Minnesota native, Zanger has covered a wide range of brands, issues and personalities, including Aloe Blacc, Seu Jorge, Wendy Clark, Susan Credle, Dan Wieden, Jeff Goodby and more. Fiercely dedicated to diversity, equality and talent, he has interviewed several women in leadership roles through his Exceptional Women of the World podcast.

All by Doug