Truth Tuesday: Truth About Diversity
For the past few years, diversity and inclusion have been buzzwords throughout the corporate world. But what do they actually mean, especially for the advertising industry, brandsand employees? On March 5, I attended the second installment of Truth Tuesdays, where India Wooldridge, SVP, Director of McCann Worldgroup Truth Central, shed some light on the subject while walking an audience through the findings of Truth About Diversity. We also heard from Harris Diamond, Chairman & CEO of McCann Worldgroup, about the role that diversity and inclusion play in the work that our company produces for its clients on a daily basis. To wrap up the session, Singleton Beato, Chief Diversity & Engagement Officer of McCann Worldgroup, discussed the steps that McCann Worldgroup is actively taking to help the company become a more inclusive place for all.
Here are a few thoughts from our ever-evolving diversity and inclusion conversation that resonated particularly well with me, especially when it comes to McCann Worldgroup partnering with brands on understanding the nuances of the subject:
Diversity Runs Deep
As a twenty-something African American woman living in New York, a place touted as one of the most diverse cities in the world, I, like people from most Anglo-centric countries, tend to think of diversity primarily in terms of race—the ugly truth is that it’s the easiest way to put someone into a category at first glance. However, many countries around the world think of diversity quite differently, looking at it through different primary lenses, including sexual orientation in Brazil, income in China, religion in India, and more. Realizing that diversity can be nuanced depending on location can and should change the way that we market to different global audiences.
Gender roles are also changing all over the world. We are slowly but surely moving away from the days when being a man or a woman was defined by strict parameters. In fact, fifty-eight percent of global survey participants believe that gender roles are fluid, a percentage point that increases when just looking at younger audiences. While this bodes well for gender equality (goodbye, pink tax and hello, higher wages), our advertising hasn’t caught up yet, as much of what we see in the world still depicts traditional gender roles.
Principles vs. Reality
While it seems that most people globally recognize the value in diversity, there’s a gap between that recognition and the actual enactment of diversity initiatives in day-to-day lives. The fact is, most people have a hard time adjusting to change, and they don’t trust things (or people) that are different from what they know. Oftentimes, those biases are unconscious, but the simple fact is that they could be eliminated just by having a conversation.
Despite all of the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving inclusion, the Diversity & Engagement team is constantly working to make sure that McCann Worldgroup and its employees are having the difficult conversations that we need to have in order to grow as a community. Community is the most important part of this—many other organizations tend to have diversity and inclusion conversations in silos, but McCann Worldgroup is working to make sure that we are all working together as a cohesive unit to make the changes that make us better people and better marketers.
Clearly, diversity is an important and ongoing conversation, but inclusion must go hand in hand with it. I’m a big proponent of bringing one’s whole self into work, but that can only happen in an environment where everyone feels like they belong. As one of the study participants so eloquently stated, “Everybody needs to be included. Don’t be stupid.” No changes can happen unless we all keep having the tough conversations, accept that humans make mistakes, and keep pushing forward to embrace the various forms of diversity in our society.