September 12th, 2023 By Naquell Stephenson
Earlier this year, Virginia’s chief diversity officer declared, “DEI is dead,” causing an uproar throughout the country that reverberated from one industry to the next. In the marketing industry, however, there is no question about the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Having diverse teams that reflect the world we live in, ensuring that talent from marginalized groups is treated equitably, and fostering a culture of inclusion are imperatives for every agency that wants to create work that resonates with consumers. That’s why organizations like ColorComm exist.
ColorComm is the nation’s leading women’s platform addressing diversity and inclusion across the communications, marketing, advertising, media, and digital industries. Each year, ColorComm brings women of color together to champion diversity and empowerment at its annual conference. This year’s conference, themed “Reconnect and Reimagine,” ignited a three-day firestorm of inspiration, insights, and empowerment. Politicians, journalists, CMOs, DEI leaders, and entertainers took the stage, setting the atmosphere ablaze with electric energy.
As an HR leader at a brand experience agency, my journey into this vibrant conference was nothing short of transformative. I discovered invaluable insights into driving diversity, authenticity, and success within our ever-evolving professional landscape. Here, I share my key takeaways from the conference, for both my fellow HR professionals and the marketers we work with:
- The power of community. Success is rarely achieved alone. Surrounding yourself with a diverse and supportive community is pivotal. Whether through mentors, sponsors, or colleagues offering different perspectives, collaboration fuels growth. It’s vital to recognize that the people around you play a significant role in your success.
- The influence of women. Women, especially women of color, move indexes and their economic impact should not be underestimated. Do not overlook your most influential brand advocates, women hold substantial sway and can be the driving force behind meaningful change. The conference highlighted the necessity of recognizing and harnessing this influence to drive progress. By placing women at the forefront of decision-making and brand-building initiatives, organizations can tap into an invaluable resource that resonates with diverse audiences.
- The power of authenticity. The most successful brands have one thing in common: customer obsession. For marketers, the goal is to help brands connect with their audience in AUTHENTIC ways. In everything from beauty products to news outlets, consumers are checking not only to see if they are represented, but more importantly, how they are portrayed, demanding that brands go beyond surface-level inclusivity This emphasizes the urgency for organizations to invest in strategies that foster genuine connections with diverse audiences, ultimately unlocking their full potential. Any brand that is not investing in their ability to connect with diverse audiences, is limiting its own potential.
- The illusion of balance. Achieving the perfect work-life balance is something many of us have tried and failed to do. At the conference, the idea of a perfect work-life balance was debunked and replaced by the concept of trade-offs. The reality is that the demands of professional and personal life mean you must prioritize certain things at the expense of others at different times. The key to success is knowing which areas require immediate attention and making the right trade-offs.
In an era where the business landscape is rapidly evolving, embracing diversity and inclusion isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic advantage. The ColorComm Conference highlighted the importance of fostering an environment that celebrates differences and values the unique contributions of individuals. By leveraging the power of community, acknowledging the influence of women, prioritizing authenticity, and navigating the illusion of balance, organizations can navigate the complexities of today’s world and drive meaningful change.