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New Year’s Resolutions for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2023



As the industry sets its agenda for 2023, DE&I need to be prioritised as a driver of creativity… but do we need to radically overhaul how we approach it?

New Year’s Resolutions for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2023
When it comes to ensuring that the advertising industry is a truly inclusive, accessible and diverse place to be - and that the work is as rich, resonant and relevant as possible - adland still has a lot of work to do. When we reached out to find out what adland leaders were hoping for in 2023, unsurprisingly diversity was high on the agenda. 

Geraldine White, Chief Diversity Officer, Publicis Groupe US

As an industry, we have the opportunity – if not the responsibility – to create work that shapes behaviours, drives change, and accurately reflects the consumers we’re trying to connect with. To this end, it is imperative that we’re intentional in driving inclusion across the entire lifecycle, from Workplace to Marketplace. 

From a workplace perspective, this can show up as developing an equitable organisational climate, cultivating diverse teams, making inclusive investments, and leading with a values-driven business strategy. And from a marketplace perspective, it’s about who we’re representing in the work, how they’re represented, and who they’re represented by – and how the work exemplifies brand values and drives growth with audiences in today’s increasingly multifaceted world. The key is that efforts across workplace and marketplace need to exist symbiotically, with equal prioritisation, in order to drive lasting impact. 

While the industry has begun to make strides on this front, it’s important to not lose sight of how far we still need to go – this work requires long term systemic change and collective momentum to ensure DEI stays at the forefront of creativity in the years to come.

Ronaldo Tavares, Executive Creative Director, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

In 2023, I want to see more meaningful work delivered in a celebratory way. Today’s consumer wants to see brands driving meaningful change within diversity, equity & inclusion and sustainability, but that doesn’t mean the work needs to be worthy, preachy or sad.

We need to see more celebration of self-identify, self expression, love of the planet and the people; these are the campaigns that open minds and help make a positive impact through the powerful platform of passions. In 2023, we need less manifestos and more brand action.

At M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, we recently launched a super celebratory inclusion campaign for Absolut, creating the ‘Absolut Choir’, a first of its kind creative project raising the volume of inspiring change-makers who together, are building a more inclusive world.

The choir is the epitome of what we need more of in creative work. It embodies our commitment to making passions more inclusive and demonstrates the enormous impact and influence brands can achieve when they participate in, and drive, the change we all long to see.

Hannah Campbell, co-founder and managing director, One Twelve Agency 

E is for Equity and why we must scrap D&I schemes
In the new year, how about we scrap diversity and inclusion policies? This may sound extreme but research is starting to show just how ineffective they are.
For instance, according to a recent Media for All (MEFA) study, 47% of Black respondents say their organisations had pledged to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in the wake of George Floyd’s death - but are yet to deliver. The same survey shows that more than half of Black, Asian and minority ethnic professionals are experiencing discrimination in the industry – with a whopping 85% likely to leave the industry due to lack of inclusion. 
Sadly, D&I initiatives, in their current form, are not working. Too often, senior leaders believe the work has been done and move on; while people from marginalised backgrounds continue to be impacted and discriminated against. We must not paint the illusion of progress without creating it. 
What’s more, the onus can be placed on the members of marginalised groups to put together fresh policies - taking them away from their actual work. It shouldn't fall upon these individuals to sort such a giant beast of a problem.
Equity is about giving people what they need in order to make things fair. This involves giving more to those that need it. In 2023, I hope that adland starts to recognise the importance of equity and to act upon it.
Rather than giving ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done, let’s remember that, when it comes to equity, if the start line is at number one, many people from marginalised groups remain at minus numbers. It’s time the industry stopped hiding behind D&I policies. We can do more – but real conversations must be had about what people need.

Trevor Robinson, Founder, Quiet Storm

"I would like to see some significant changes in the coming year. The first is to see bigger ideas with a bit more depth. 2022 showed us some truly glossy and visually impressive work, but the messages have been weaker and less memorable underneath that treat for the eyes. There’s no point in spending a lot of money to create something with no real message or thought behind it.
With so much happening in the world today, from the climate crisis, war, and recession, there’s a lot to talk about, and we should be reflecting the time and experiences of real people. This doesn’t mean we have to dwell on the negative, but we must match our impressive visuals with an equally remarkable story and give people what they need. Maybe this needs more research, more panels and a greater understanding of our audiences and how they feel so we can design appropriate and memorable work. A diversity of perspectives in meeting rooms is also an important factor that will help achieve more thoughtful and representative work, which relates to real people.
Following this, I want to see more diversity in our industry. Maybe I say this every year, but it is still something we all need to work towards. I want to see more people of colour leading agencies, at desks and in the work, influencing what we do daily. It can’t be a token meeting once a month but rather a part of the business. With the possibilities of business cuts and a recession on the horizon, it also has to be safeguarded because it’s vital to our industry if we want to talk to real-world audiences in authentic and representative ways. We are making progress but we can’t get bored of the conversation around diversity. Especially when it makes business sense.

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LBB Editorial, Thu, 22 Dec 2022 15:29:04 GMT