By: Josefina Rodriguez
This week, ADCOLOR Inside released exclusive footage from one of the most highly anticipated panels of the 2019 conference: CMOs Stand with ADCOLOR.
The Chief Marketing Officers of Facebook, Citi, and Verizon took to the ADCOLOR mainstage for a candid conversation about how Diversity and Inclusion factors into their companies and lives. Carla Hassan of Citi, Antonio Lucio of Facebook, and Diego Scotti of Verizon contributed to the frank and colorful conversation about how they as CMOs navigate the halls of power to make change happen from the top, and what we can do to hold our leaders accountable to creating diverse and inclusive companies.
Tiffany R. Warren, the Founder and President of ADCOLOR, served as moderator and kicked off the conversation with a personal and intimate question for the panelists: “When did you know you were different?” After thanking the “beautiful” audience of diverse innovators and creatives, the panelists weren’t afraid to get vulnerable in their responses. Carla Hassan of Citi remarked that for her, it had been a struggle to even acknowledge that she was different, because for so much of her life, she never talked to anyone about being an immigrant from the Middle East in a futile effort to “pass” and fit in. She had never truly felt comfortable sharing her story until about a year and a half ago. On finally feeling empowered to speak her truth, she said: “I woke up and I thought, ‘What is wrong with you?’ The opportunity that you have to be able to give back to people who are just like you and you haven’t done that. And so it was a real moment in my life, really understanding that I hadn’t acknowledged that I was different… It is really freeing to be able to talk about who I am and where I come from… that I am who I am.”
The theme of ADCOLOR conference weekend was #TakeAStand, and the panelists leaned into that sentiment bravely. They did not shy away from confronting the tough questions as they touched on provocative topics that are acutely relevant to marketers and storytellers today. Here are the top 3 takeaways from the event:
- Expanding the Definition of Diversity:
- Less Panels, More Action:
Global companies today are using technology to broaden their reach and build some of the most diverse communities that have ever existed. In this environment, having an expanded definition of diversity and ensuring that a plurality of opinions have a meaningful voice in the decision-making process is the only way for global companies to do business effectively. For CMOs leading global companies that serve customers aged 9 to 99 and everyone in between, diversity should include various dimensions, including cross-generational collaboration and breadth of thought. Antonio Lucio of Facebook noted: “It has become increasingly important the need to have multiplicity of points of views… not just the obvious ones: gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity. But also, because of the space that we occupy, we also need diversity of points of view of political orientation at the global level.”
Recently, several global brands have been caught in the less-than-desirable position of being “cancelled” or boycotted, after they’ve done something considered questionable or offensive. The popular cultural phenomenon of withdrawing support after a problematic action has its own catch phrase: Cancel Culture. Like most cultural movements, the standards evolve and change with the times. But in a culture where missteps can lead to mob mentality, how do you handle #CancelCulture when it happens? According to Carla Hassan of Citi, start with authenticity and honesty and make sure to stop and listen. “My perception of something that’s acceptable may not be acceptable to you, and I can’t discount that opinion. I can’t discount your perspective and your point of view,” she noted to applause. Diego Scotti of Verizon added that the prevalence of these issues only reinforces the importance of encouraging diversity within marketing. “I think a lot of these types of crises that surprise big companies happen because the people that they have around the table when the decisions are being made, when the campaigns are being created, they don’t have the diversity of opinion.” Encouraging diversity helps brands in more ways than one. It keeps brands from stumbling down the narrow-minded path that leads to offensive actions and the potential for customer outrage. A diverse team that cuts across beliefs, understandings and assumptions is the best line of defense against #CancelCulture.
Everyone on stage agreed that encouraging diversity of perspectives and experiences at the table is good for business. However, when it comes to execution, Antonio Lucio of Facebook took a stand in suggesting a controversial idea: “As contradictory as it sounds, on diversity, we need to do less.”
As critical as Diversity and Inclusion work is, the rate of change has been halting and slow. After all, the business case and the playbook for fostering diversity is there. How much more of a body of work is necessary? According to Antonio Lucio of Facebook, the answer is less talking, and more action. “We need to do less…less panels, more work…less initiatives, more focus on what is working…less competition and ego play, and more forums.” The current state of D&I leaves individual companies marketing their diversity efforts, competing for positive praise and social goodwill in a race for the press release. As Diego Scotti of Verizon, noted “Diversity and Inclusion has become fashionable. But the problem is the transition to action, it becomes just talk.” Coordinated action and collaboration across companies and industry would be a more powerful catalyst for change. The panels, research and discussions have set the foundation: now as an industry we need to use that momentum to achieve impactful and effective D&I transformation within marketing and advertising.
For more from this insightful panel of luminaries, watch below or head over to the ADCOLOR Youtube channel to watch others.
The CMOs of Facebook, Citi, and Verizon took to the ADCOLOR stage for a candid conversation about Diversity & Inclusion. How does it factor into their companies, teams and lives? Listen in and take note of how change truly starts at the top.
Chief Brand Officer, Citi
Global Chief Marketing Officer, Facebook
Chief Marketing Officer, Verizon
Tiffany R. Warren – Moderator
SVP, Chief Diversity Officer, Omnicom and Founder & President, ADCOLOR
ADCOLOR Inside is a series that gives people an inside look into some of the panel discussions from the 2019 ADCOLOR Conference. #TakeAStand
Learn more about ADCOLOR at http://adcolor.org/