Key Takeaways From Adweek’s Diversity & Inclusion Summit

By: Veronica Figueroa Fernandez, PRSA Orlando Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Adweek’s inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Summit, brought thirteen chief marketing officers and brand leaders from top global organizations together for a virtual event to discuss how diversity, inclusion, equality and equity are growth drivers across all business sectors. 

Diversity and inclusion in business and marketing are often pushed to the sidelines during times of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, but these brand leaders agreed that now is the time to double down on those efforts and find ways to creatively and meaningfully engage with underrepresented communities. 

Continue reading to see how some of the featured speakers at the summit are creating more inclusive workplaces and navigating D&I in their business and marketing strategies, and the takeaways you can incorporate into your own practices. 

Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at P&G

Marc’s thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis: 

“During these times of crisis, diversity and inclusion, and equality in general, take a step back. The people who have been historically discriminated against tend to suffer disproportionately. What is distressing about it is that the very people who are marginalized are those working in the frontlines, such as women, African Americans, Hispanic Americas, Asian Pacific Americans, LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.”

Marc’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Don’t wait for anybody. If you’re not doing multicultural marketing in the US, you’re not doing marketing. Get your company to embrace D&I. If they don’t, leave.”

How P&G has taken action: 

“We recognized very quickly that many groups of people did not have access to the most basic of products, so we pivoted our annual relief efforts to COVID-19 relief efforts to make sure that we were supplying families in need, focusing on the hardest hit communities.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Refuse to snap back to what and who is familiar, and instead step forward on equality and inclusion.
  • Restart equal. Hire equal. Pay equal. Share equal.
  • Join forces to be a force for good. Don’t admire the problem, shine the light on it.

Antonio Lucio, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Facebook

Antonio’s thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis: 

“We need to make sure that diversity and inclusion isn’t one of the casualties of this pandemic. There is a need to accelerate progress, and I am worried that things will go back to square one, which will not work moving forward. The business case has proven time and time again that diverse teams perform better, and as roles continue to be cut or furloughed, we need to keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront.”

Antonio’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Everyone likes to talk about the nice part of D&I, but it is hard. It is supposed to be hard. When you have a diverse group of people bringing different experiences, it is going to create some friction, but unless you’re willing to look at someone in the eye and accept the fact that their thinking is going to make your campaign better and move the company forward, then talking about D&I means nothing.”

How Facebook has taken action: 

From the beginning of the global health crisis, Facebook has been supporting the global health community’s work to keep people safe and informed by providing factual information in all six United Nations languages (English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish), among other efforts.

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Stay vigilant and address inequality head on.
  • Keep measuring your progress.
  • Take action.

Diego Scotti, Chief Marketing Officer at Verizon

Diego’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Cannes was cancelled this year, and when the organizers put out their statement, they said that the creative community wouldn’t be able to put forward the work that would set the benchmark because of the circumstances. I would say that many brands are putting out some of the most meaningful, purpose-driven and diverse work at this time.”

How Verizon has taken action: 

“We are very focused on Pride month, but this year the parades won’t be there. We decided to launch a virtual campaign in June called “Voices of Pride,” that’ll amplify and promote the stories of that community.”

Additionally, Scotti touched on adfellows, a diverse and inclusive fellowship program created by Verizon designed to help individuals break into marketing and advertising. “Bringing all of these voices together to tell their stories… is the best way that we can keep moving forward.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Collaborate.
  • Help each other.
  • Champion outside-the-box thinking.

Claudia Romo Edelman, Founder of We Are All Human

Claudia’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“The Hispanic community is disproportionately affected and equipped. Many of them do not have enough information on the coronavirus pandemic because it is not being correctly translated or it is not reaching them. Now is not the time to stop engaging with this market. This is the time in which you have to increase representation in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes, and let us know that you see us. The Hispanic community is loyal and they want to see you champion and invest in their community.”

How We Are All Human has taken action: 

We Are All Human’s Hispanic Star Response & Recovery Plan has provided a resource directory and a marketplace for talent and services during the pandemic. They, along with their corporate partners, have also provided necessary resources such as food and routers to underserved communities.

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Maintain or increase your ad spend in the Hispanic market.
  • Support Hispanics as employees, consumers, and community.
  • Hire, promote, retain and celebrate Hispanics within your workplace.

Cynthia Chen, GM and President of Consumer Health at RB

Cynthia’s thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis: 

“There has been a lot of stigma toward the Asian community. When you think about the United States, the word ‘united’ stands out, but it has felt very divisive. It is 2020, and this is not acceptable. What our leaders say has a huge impact on their audience, and as a brand we have the unique responsibility to spread the truth.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Involve the community.
  • Build coalitions beyond Asian Americans.
  • Provide utility – empathy is not sufficient, utility is critical. It is about the lives and livelihoods of our people.

Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO at GLAAD

Sarah’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Include LGBTQ+ people in your ads because it really does move the needle and drive acceptance and policy that supports that community.”

“When you market to a marginalized community, make sure that your company understands D&I and that there is an inclusive culture in your organization. You are not just marketing, you are joining a movement and that means more than putting a rainbow on a product. That means that we need you to stand up for us, and we will expect you to do so. There are going to be missteps. Don’t let fear stop you. The most important thing is the intention, that you’re looking to embrace and engage with a marginalized community, not just make a dollar from them.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Don’t just market to our community. Join our movement.
  • When done right, LGBTQ+ inclusion in ads is good for your bottom line and can also advance LGBTQ+ acceptance.
  • Ensure trusted experts from the community are brought in on your ad or campaign.

Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient

Marc’s thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis: 

“One of the things that is very clear is that today, in this moment of crisis, D&I and equality for all is a business imperative. We are seeing the gender and racial gaps widen, and if we don’t activate change consciously we will widen the gap. This is our opportunity to get rid of junk and bring forward the positives. Look at the things during this crisis that have led to creativity and equity. Let’s not rewrite history, let’s create our future together. Shut that door and bring open a new one in advancing women and equality.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Create metrics that matter and hold yourself accountable.
  • Ensure you are not only filling your pipeline with diversity, but are also mapping the pathway for success.
  • Life stage accommodations to ensure you attract and retain the best talent, not just the available talent.

Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer at William Morris Endeavor

Marc’s thoughts on current events: 

“What are we doing? Are we going to keep having these nice conversations about diversity and inclusion and expect something to change? We need to ensure that this conversation doesn’t stop with hashtags.”

“I challenge us to be uncomfortable having the conversation. Don’t sit by—when you’re quiet your silence is a weapon too. We can’t have nice conversations anymore. I want everyone to be enraged like I am enraged. I am an angry black woman today—and I want you to be too.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Be enraged.
  • Be enraged.
  • Be enraged.

Stephanie Buscemi, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Salesforce

Stephanie’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“Business is a platform for change. Businesses have a responsibility to give back and create change.”

“Instead of creating a separate team that audits things for inclusivity, it’s in the DNA of the company.”

“Tell the stories of underrepresented communities. You cannot be what you cannot see.”

How Salesforce has taken action: 

In 2014, Salesforce launched Trailhead, a series of free online tutorials that coach beginner and intermediate developers who need to learn how to code for the Salesforce platform, with the goal of driving the creation of nearly 3.3 million new jobs by 2022. Through Trailhead, Salesforce hopes to attract more women and minorities and other diverse audiences to the software world.

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Amplify diverse stories and hear across your community.
  • Scale globally, while providing your community with the tools to mount their own local campaigns.
  • Educate your entire organization on the need for deeper structural changes that value all of us.

Jason White, Chief Marketing Officer at Curaleaf

Jason’s thoughts on implementing D&I in business and marketing: 

“The cannabis industry has been built on the backs of people in jail, and as the industry flourishes, a lot of these folk are not allowed to participate. There is a stigma attached to this industry that needs to change. How do we allow people to participate in this industry and honor the communities and the people who have been marginalized?”

“If we’re going to be part of change, we have to make it part of our business model.”

Key Actions You and Your Company Can Take:

  • Send a message – hold recruiters accountable for DE&I (diversity, equity & inclusion).
  • Shine a light – invite us to the community of normalcy, while requiring the same accountability and transparency.
  • Change the narrative – encourage careers in cannabis and don’t perpetuate the cannabis stigma.

If you weren’t able to make the summit, you can catch the recordings here. The original and extended version of this blog post appeared on Laughing Samurai

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