Sunday, October 04, 2009

7150: Battle Stations!

From Advertising Age…

Why We’re Building an Army to Advance Industry Diversity

Turning the AdColor Industry Coalition Into a Full-Fledged Membership Organization for All

By Nancy Hill and Bob Liodice

Four years ago, the marketing industry came together and launched the AdColor Industry Coalition with the goal of celebrating the accomplishments of diverse role models and leaders within the marketing profession. We have done so for the past three years with the AdColor Awards, which this week honored 20 deserving winners for 2009.

The Coalition is a program of the Association of National Advertisers, and it’s supported by the Advertising Club of New York, the American Advertising Federation, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Arnold Worldwide and Omnicom Group.

However, despite much energy and attention being focused on this topic, the industry is not as diverse as we would like it to be. We can all speculate about the root causes, but it is evident that greater understanding and action are needed to accelerate progress.

The current dialogue around diversity is highly charged, which creates a challenging environment for changing the paradigm. To increase diversity within the marketing profession, we must have a more constructive, positive dialogue. We must share ideas. We must socialize the issue, so that people outside of HR departments think about it. We must take bold action. And that’s what the AdColor Industry Coalition is doing.

We are drafting an “army” of willing participants to elevate the conversation and commit the industry to making a real difference. To build and deploy this army, we are dramatically expanding the structure of the AdColor Industry Coalition, transforming it into a full-fledged, broad-based membership organization with the goal of advancing diversity across the entire marketing profession.

Our focus is simple: to identify what is working and what is not working; to socialize this knowledge across all marketing participants; and to encourage and inspire the entire marketing profession to embrace diversity as a fundamental, essential way of doing business.

So whom do we want to join the Coalition as members? Companies and individuals, agencies and advertisers, media organizations and research firms, production companies and associations. Together, we can create a more diverse industry, as well as a more successful one that enormously benefits from these inherent truths:

• A diverse marketing industry is better able to reach and influence culturally diverse consumers.

• Diverse backgrounds, perspectives and persuasions contribute to a more inspiring and creative environment—the kind that stimulates marketing professionals to produce the best work possible.

• Businesses that support inclusion set an important example for their employees and positively influence society at large by broadly socializing the inherent value of diversity.

We recognize that to date much of our industry’s focus has been on recruitment efforts—an important part of the diversity equation, for sure. However, in mobilizing our army of diversity advocates, we will expand our approach and focus on ways to retain diverse individuals within the marketing profession so that they can enjoy robust, long-term careers. We will accomplish this by spotlighting effective professional development programs, mentoring programs, recognition programs and networking programs; we will disseminate knowledge about these initiatives through forums, events and task-force meetings.

There is much to accomplish. By transforming the AdColor Industry Coalition into a broad-based membership organization, we are taking a vitally important step in the right direction.

Nancy Hill is president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Bob Liodice is president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers.

For information about joining the AdColor Industry Coalition, visit their website.

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