Women of Color: Cultivating Change

Sep 18

Diversity, or the lack there of, has become an increasingly popular topic within the communications industry. In today’s multicultural landscape, companies who lack a focus on diversity do not prioritize the success of their organization. How can an industry designed to convey messages to a variety of audiences do so if it lacks diversity in the workforce? This question is one that continually bubbled to the top at the 2017 ColorComm annual conference.

In 2011, Lauren Wesley Wilson, Founder & President of ColorComm, Inc., created the only organization designed for women of color in communications. Several members of the Ogilvy team attended the 2017 ColorComm in Key Biscayne, FL from July 26 to 28.  On the first day of the conference, Ogilvy & Mather sponsored a panel discussion entitled, “Reinventing Madison Avenue,” led by Jennifer Risi, Worldwide Chief Communications Officer at Ogilvy; Kathy Baird, Managing Director, Content + Social at Ogilvy; Tola St. Matthew Daniel, Vice President at Ogilvy; and Anne Madison, Chief Strategy and Communications Officer at Brand USA.

This year’s theme, “Surprise Yourself,” left the team with five key takeaways that permeated our minds, were potent enough to make lasting impressions on the way we operate within the workforce, and encouraged us to persevere as women of color in the communications field.

  1. How do you balance it all? You never do.

We examined the notion that imbalance is inevitable. Though we constantly feel pressured to be our very best in every category of our lives, it is nearly impossible. The best plan of action is to maintain our mental health by seeking out a support network, setting realistic boundaries, and journaling daily by writing down three things – big or small – that  gave us joy each day. Investing in ourselves first will give us the energy we need to invest in others and our work.

  1. We can’t accept the status quo

Diversity allows for innovation. We need to push our clients and ourselves to do more, even if we do not consider ourselves to be “ready.” It’s our responsibility and our role as communicators to bring new ideas to the client. We must continue to challenge our clients to think differently, and open ourselves up to new personal and professional experiences.

  1. There are two types of currency: Performance and Relationship

Performance currency is doing what was asked, plus a little extra. Over time, your standard of excellence, or performance, comes to be an expectation among your coworkers. As a result it, causes the “value” of this currency to diminish – although  high in value, it becomes a normality. On the contrary, relationship currency appreciates in value over time. The relationships you garner within your workspace will always serve you in valuable ways.

  1. You always need diversity and inclusion at the table

The word “diversity” is diverse within itself. Not only is this term inclusive of gender and race; diversity incorporates differentiating categories such as socio-economic, religion, sexual orientation, and more. Without diversity, a group or organization cannot properly develop and align messages that will resonate with today’s audiences. Within the communications field, at this moment, it is an abnormality to see a CEO, CCO, etc. who is a person of color, much less a woman of color. We will know that diversity is a normality when it no longer feels like an abnormality to see a person of color in leadership positions.

  1. Turn pain into purpose

We must dedicate ourselves to what we are passionate about. It seems as though we are seeing painful images everyday via news, social media channels, etc. As communication professionals, we have to look inward and ask ourselves “How can I take the pain that I feel and shift it into purpose? How can I make a difference?” We should all keep these thoughts in mind and allow them to fuel what we do on a daily basis. What we do in our offices on a daily basis can emanate outward and change the world.

In the words of our founder, David Ogilvy, let’s always “Aim for the remarkable.”

Ogilvy staff from across the country at this year’s ColorComm Conference in Key Biscayne, Florida, including author Fontaine Bland (far left, 2nd row).

This entry was posted on Monday, September 18th, 2017 at 10:01 am and is filed under Ogilvy Washington. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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