Sorry folks – this post has no 24/7 yule log live streams, our pets in festive sweaters, or fleeting remixes of holiday songs sung by the Response team.
This year, in lieu of a short-lived agency holiday card, we wanted to use this opportunity to pause and reflect on a movement that we find very meaningful and more important than ever.
Our core belief is that no matter how tough a challenge is, it can be solved if and when the right minds come together. But too often in marketing & advertising, the minds that come together look, think, and act the same way. And this is a serious problem, from both a cultural and business perspective.
The full scope of the issue was brought to our attention back in 2017 when we attended an AdAge panel titled “The Industry Sucks at Diversity – What Will You Do About It?”
They were right. It does suck. The troubles are not confined to just race/ethnicity – inequality in the advertising industry spans all aspect of culture, including gender, identity, sexual orientation, age, relation, disability status, and nationality.
And it’s not just bad behind the scenes. The creative work that gets produced reflects this imbalance, which trickles down to our everyday thoughts and perceptions.
“What Will You Do About It?”
We really reflected on the challenge that was proposed in the title of the AdAge panel. While certainly a daunting task, we were determined to play even a small role in flipping the script when it comes to the future of diversity and inclusion in the advertising space.
We hypothesized that a lack of awareness early during career development could be something we help influence to help underprivileged students get involved in a creative career path.
Does every up-and-coming student, despite their upbringing, economic situation, or demographic, know that they can make a successful and meaningful career out of copywriting or coming up with the next memorable TV commercial? Or designing the next branded NFT that millions will try to get their hands on?
With these questions in mind, the Response Marketing Explorers Program was born, based on the belief that if we could reach students early and expose them to the possibilities of careers in marketing we’d be able to help them realize that they could apply their talents to careers many of them never knew existed. And, in time, help correct the balance of diversity and opportunity in our industry.
For the last 5 years, we teamed up with Career Regional High School in our home city of New Haven, Connecticut to develop a mentorship and scholarship program. Students selected for the program are exposed to all areas of our agency including strategy, branding, design, website development, copywriting, motion graphics and more.
To date, our total investment in the Marketing Explorer’s program including our time, the stipend we give the explorers, and scholarships equals $76,700. We are extremely proud of this contribution and look forward to growing it year after year. It’s our tangible dedication and commitment to a more diverse, prolific, and inspiring landscape for advertising (and, in turn, the world).
An Enlightened Holiday
We recently participated in The Workplace Enlightenment Certification program conducted by the 4As which is designed to ensure that our agency has the highest standards when it comes to equity and inclusion. It further opened up our eyes more and has made us realize that we need to be working on our practices, thought patterns, and actions perpetually – even outside of the Marketing Explorers Program.
We really love the term “Enlightened” as even sharing a little bit of knowledge in this space can shed some valuable light on a topic that gets so often left in the dark. So, this holiday, we invite you to become Enlightened as well – to become more mindful of the problem that we all face and to keep this perspective in the back of your mind as 2022 presents new advertising and marketing challenges.
Throughout the new year (and beyond), we are going to share what we’ve learned from our diversity program, update you on our Marketing Explorers program, spotlight some key individuals who are moving the D&I needle, passing along further reading, and much more. Keep an eye on our social channels and newsletters. And, of course, celebrating where previous Explorers are now: we are enormously proud of them and they deserve the spotlight. Speaking of which – we were super excited reading about Astou Diallo’s entrepreneurial spirit shining bright at UCONN.
We believe that you must be the change you want to see in the world, and what better time to rekindle our passion towards making those changes than the holiday season. So while our program alone isn’t enough to solve such a pervasive problem, it is our sincere hope that our learnings and actions can help or inspire others in their own diversity & inclusion efforts. If you are interested in learning more, or in helping to grow our D&I efforts (or start a program at your own organization), we’d love to collaborate and keep the conversation going! Please do not hesitate to reach out.
We’re thankful to work with clients that understand and respect our values. Our program is only possible because of your support. We can’t wait to share the difference you’ve made for our Marketing Explorers and what we’ve learned along the way.
Have a Happy, Healthy, SAFE, and Enlightened Holiday!