Our values as an organization are curiosity, bravery, and caring. And we can’t live up to those values without a commitment to being an inclusive organization. It’s why we set out to formalize our team education and practices around diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through the American Association of Advertising Agencies, we completed The Workplace Enlightenment program.
Our certification program was led by Natasha Bowman who guided us in discussions that sometimes were eye-opening, sometimes uncomfortable, and always illuminating. Going through an experience like this requires you to be open-minded and vulnerable. And Natasha embodied those traits, sharing deeply personal stories about herself and experiences that made many of the concepts we were learning about even more real.
Why This Was Important To Us
We wanted to explore how we could expose ourselves to different viewpoints, cultures, and life experiences. By doing so we believed we can foster a stronger culture of understanding, connect deeper with each other, and become more attuned to the visible and invisible challenges that people face.
Beyond contributing to our culture, becoming an enlightened workplace makes us better at our jobs. It reinforces empathy and reminds us to seek out those different viewpoints that may not be present with the people around the table. To be a good marketer, we often need to understand the nuances of different people and what drives them. Interrupting your default patterns of relying on your own personal experience is just one of the practical benefits of the program.
How It’s Made An Impact
Reflecting on how becoming an Enlightened Workplace, we’ve seen how it’s been influential. It’s equipped us in many ways to handle challenging situations. We’ve been faced with seeing the impact of mental health on people’s ability to live their best life. It’s changed our perspective on hiring and even the questions we ask. It’s opened up our minds about people’s different backgrounds and how those can be applicable to what we do-even if that experience isn’t what is traditionally expected in a certain role. And it’s proven to be invaluable when we were called upon to help a global Fortune 500 company develop a brand for their inclusion and diversity practice.
Our Journey Continues
The certification we received was not the culmination. An enlightened workplace takes continual work. It takes knowing that we don’t know everything and must continue learning. It takes trust in each other, making the time, and creating an environment that people feel comfortable in to have conversations that aren’t always easy. So we’ve committed to this for the long haul. As a team, we regularly get together to share experiences around topics related to race, faith, gender, age, sexuality, identity, disabilities, and more. We’ve seen it make a difference in our company and encourage you to go on your own journey–it’s worth the commitment.