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Diversity in Adland: What's the Next Step?


INFLUENCER: Megan Rokosh is making a personal pledge - and encourages others to do the same

Diversity in Adland: What's the Next Step?

There is so much discussion around diversity and inclusion (D&I) right now. This year, Cannes featured a plethora of panels and events focused on these topics. This gives hope to the intention of establishing more diverse and inclusive workplaces across the broader industry, elevates awareness around the issues at hand and proves the importance of making it a real priority. Kudos to everyone who’s contributing to the conversation and trying to drive progress.

There’s an irony about awareness in that our future goal is actually no awareness at all. True equality is a lack of consideration of gender, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, social class or any other attribute being a qualifying or disqualifying factor in one’s ability to perform given work. If we’ve done our lifetime’s work correctly, future generations won’t have to consider that diversity or equality are things that we have to lobby for, they will simply be realities. With this in mind, now that we’ve clearly established awareness of these issues, what’s the next step in this conversation? What should the industry landscape look like next year? What actions do we take and what are our KPIs?

We have to ask ourselves if we’re taking the right steps. Have we found the right balance between events and communities that are awareness and support driven, and those that drive action? How do we translate awareness into conversion in these categories and make sure that we’re being actionable when we’re spending valuable time together? Are we considering D&I in our diversity and inclusion discussions - ensuring that exposure to other perspectives is prioritised? Surely a bunch of advertising experts are equipped to make an impact. 

Havas is focused on making strides in D&I. One example specific to gender diversity is an accelerator program our talent team launched called Femmes Forward, which is designed to prepare high-potential female employees to advance their careers at a faster pace. It’s a combination of career vision setting, leadership awareness, development skills-based training, mindfulness exercises and includes presentations and conversations with internal and external women thought leaders, experts and entrepreneurs. I’ve also attended a few skill-focused events this year (one specifically about negotiation) that left me not only aware of what I needed to improve but also gave me specific tools and a clear path forward to be better for myself and my team. I love the practicality of simply offering what’s needed.

Diversity and inclusion is such a complex issue that my brain starts to hurt when I try to think about how to tackle it as an industry. I’m by no means an expert on the subject. As a woman with Canadian/American/Polish-immigrant lineage and as half of a mixed relationship, I know the challenges that touch my life but only understand a fraction of what other diverse groups face. What I know is that I care, and want an improved situation in the future. The clearest way forward to me is to make a personal pledge. I encourage others to do the same. Below is what I vow to do:

1. Opportunities to mentor young women or diverse staff will be treated with the highest level of personal priority and if possible, never rescheduled or deprioritised.

2. Any diversity-oriented event or initiative that I lead will have actionable outcomes and a clear call to action, and give attendees relevant tools for progress.

3. I’ll use my voice for diversity and equality outcomes of all kinds, not just those that apply to me. I’ll be vocal when industry decisions are made without consideration of the above.

Our goal needs to be for future generations to not require meetings that qualify the fact that we have issues with D&I and for them to live amongst a new normal in our industry. This is a case where the success of our work will be based on whether or not we have any work left to do at all. My real hope is that we have none. 

Megan Rokosh is Communications Consultant at Havas North America

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Havas North America, Fri, 27 Jul 2018 12:51:38 GMT