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.
When asking female leaders why, with all of the issues facing the industry, they choose to stay, Amber Guild, president of T Brand Marketing Solutions at the New York Times, felt longevity has something to do with it, combined with a relentless focus on her own contribution for the future.
“Especially being one of very few women of color in this industry, for me, it felt like it's a responsibility to make sure that I can change that for other generations,” she says.
Robyn Tombacher, North America head of operations at Wunderman, also feels a sense of responsibility — discussing her own tenure as well.
“I’ve persevered through a lot of tough work over the years and I've been in leadership teams that are not very diverse with a lot of women,” she says. “I feel a sense of responsibility to keep going. I feel like a lot of women look to me to show them the way, and I don't feel like I'm ready to give that up.”
For Jessica Reznick, managing director at Magentic Collaborative, sticking with it, despite the challenges, is part of her perspective.
“I had challenges in an industry that was very male-driven and male-led, but I learned to overcome it and find success in the industry and I'm very proud of that,” she says. “I think the ability to teach that to younger women — I think that’s what keeps me in it.”
In terms of what the industry should change and embrace to further gain momentum on the issue of inclusion, Blake Harrop, managing director of Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to not just talk, but create momentum.
“We need to be aware that the conversation doesn't end with gender inclusion and gender work force participation issues,” he says. “I think that's one of the big changes — is that we need to start viewing the issue of inclusion as something that affects all of us, and that we all need to engage. I think the difference between engagement and action is the thing that you commit to doing.”
Further, on the issue of actions that can be taken in the present, Glenn Singleton, president and founder of Pacific Educational Group makes a clear distinction between the actual term “inclusion” and believes that it’s about “belonging.”
“Inclusion is the idea of what's presented, what possibly is there for everyone, but belonging is actually what people feel and what they experience,” he says. “I can easily find out the health of an organization by talking to people and asking, ‘Do you feel like you belong here?’ And if that answer is not, ‘Yes,’ I can still talk to people in the agency or in the industry and ask, ‘Do you have a program of inclusion?,’ and they will say, ‘Yes.’ And so the yes for inclusion but the no for belonging, at the end of the day is not productive.”
On the responsibility that men have in taking on the issue, Singleton points out that the disparity is an issue created by men and that it needs to be improved by men. Scott Kleiner, director of client confidentiality at Wieden+Kennedy also believes that men, even when they are in their own cohort, should be calling each other out when one says or does something that is destructive.
“You can't just let it slide anymore,” he says. “There's just things that you have to call out and reel in.”
Asked whether or not there will come a day when the 3% Conference isn’t needed, Ashleigh Axios, design exponent at Automattic has hope and believes that it could evolve.
“Maybe the next part of the conversation is talking about trans women and creative leadership roles,” she says. “By the time we feel like we've checked it all off, we'll realize that there's been some slippage somewhere and we need to go back to it, but I hope to see the day when it's no longer needed. We shall see.”
Wunderman proudly supports The Drum’s 3% Conference coverage. We believe true diversity does not check boxes, it checks itself. http://wunderman.com/