August 14, 2020

3% Conference Recap – The Radically Inclusive Future of Work

Black woman holds laptop near glassed server room

The ninth annual 3% Movement conference took place July 27- July 29, and even though it was all virtual this year, it was still a great and inspiring experience. Until the 3% Movement started, only 3% of all U.S. creative directors were women. However, through a mix of content, high-touch events, and professional development, the 3% Movement has helped increase the number of women creative directors from 3% to 29%. Part of their approach includes conferences like this one that covers a breadth of topics and features speakers who are industry leaders in their impact and reach. This year, the theme was “The Radically Inclusive Future of Work.” This topic was covered from a multitude of perspectives in over 25 recorded and live sessions and meetups. Following are the highlights we thought were important to share with fellow marketers and professionals dedicated to a radically inclusive future.

How to End Racism NOW in the Corporate World — Cindy Gallop
The conference kicked off with a Google Hangout virtual “meet up” with Cindy Gallop, marketing maven and founder of Make Love, Not Porn to discuss her compelling 3% Studio Session on how to end racism, not tomorrow – NOW. The roadmap is quite simple. The hardest part is starting and staying the course. Cindy advised that in order to end racism, you need to hire, welcome, and promote Black talent. she provided four reasons for why hiring, welcoming and promoting Black talent will help end racism NOW:

  1. Paying Black talent starts to channel wealth and help build the Black economy.
  2. Integrating Black talent into your community affords you a chance to showcase Black excellence in the full spectrum of professional roles, which serves as an inspiration to your competitors and most importantly, to the next generation of Black talent.
  3. Surrounding white employees with brilliant Black talent allows for strong interpersonal connections that foster empathy and a deeper understanding of the Black culture, which ultimately make us better creatives, strategists, and marketers.
  4. Enabling the Black lens affects the way you create marketing programs, including creating and approving ads, developing strategies, etc. You will never have to worry about whether ads are diverse again because it becomes a part of the cultural intellectual capital gained when you employ Black talent.

So what needs to happen in order to successfully hire, welcome, and promote Black talent? Here’s a summary of the four steps, rooted in radically rethinking about the “how.”

  1. Re-engineer the job description so that it attracts Black talent. One thing to consider is that brilliant Black candidates, and Black creatives in particular, may not have had the same opportunities as their white counterparts, so their resume or portfolio may not have the same breadth of experiences. Be careful what you ask for, you might be perpetuating racial inequities.
  2. Re-brief all recruiters to find brilliant Black candidates who are qualified but are operating one to three levels below the required position. It is very likely that they are not being promoted where they currently are or have been — so how do we unleash that potential?
  3. Re-work the interviewing process. Oftentimes, white men start with the benefit of the doubt, while Black candidates have to prove their qualifications. White men start in a position of positivity, while Black candidates start from a position of negativity. Develop data-driven processes that ensure the team is focused on how they are best suited to get the job done. Provide written, individual feedback, and convene as a group to form a consensus.
  4. Re-tool the working environment so that it is welcoming to Black employees. It is not enough to just talk about diversity. You need to change the way you do things, starting with how you find Black employees, engage with them, and make them feel welcomed.

Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste | How 2020 Forced Industry Culture to Change — Kai Deveraux Lawson and Kofi Amoo Gottfried
During this virtual panel, the speakers made a point to distinguish between a brand that says “I’m here to support you,”versus “I’m not a racist org so you can shop with me.” One is being a true partner to Black people, the other is being an opportunist and serving a marketing need. Kofi described making diversity real and lasting, not just leaving it to a diversity and inclusion (D&I) team within a corporation that provides lip service but fails to provide an accountability mechanism among hiring managers. As we begin to push our clients (and ourselves) to think deeply about anti-racism and inclusive marketing, we have to ask ourselves and our clients, “Are you doing this to amplify voices of people who need it? To help an unseen audience be seen, or are you doing it to self-serve a marketing need? One of the more memorable comments came from Deveraux: “Apply the same amount of creativity to talent as we do to our briefs.” Gottfried shared that he believes Door Dash quickly “showed up” and leaned in with their values. They thought through how to support Black-owned businesses during this global pandemic, even if it comes at a cost.

Loneliness: The Epidemic That Workplaces Can Help Heal — Shasta Nelson
The biggest takeaway from this session was the model on how to create experiences that combat loneliness. It is a triangle, with consistency, positivity and vulnerability positioned at the three corners; each is needed to foster bonding and a sense of community. Interactions that happen often and are consistent help reinforce existing and new connections being made. Ensuring that interactions are positive is key, because this strengthens the interactors’ ability to influence attitudes about the community and their role in it. Vulnerability — the most difficult of the three elements to achieve — is the most critical because, much like adding primer before a new layer of paint improves the final product, being vulnerable in a public yet intimate way creates stronger bonds that are resilient against workplace breakdowns in communication or camaraderie.

Helping All Employees Live Mentally Healthier Lives — Jason Rosario & Mary Kay Gilhooly
The key highlight from this session was very transformative in the way it implored organizations to reevaluate time off relative to today’s version of “time on.” The greatest mindset shift is that employees no longer need to bring their “full selves” to work but rather, they are being forced to bring their work to their full selves. Rosario raised an idea that has been recently confirmed through research, that there is an inverse relationship between working more hours and productivity.

Caring for the Caregivers — Barri Rafferty, Dalana Brand, Ian Sohn, Jarett Hausske
An all-star lineup delivered some quick hits on what they’ve been doing to ensure they are caring for the caregivers. Here’s a short list of initiatives started, in some cases, before the COVID-19 was a topic of discussion:

  • No-meeting Fridays
  • Company days of rest, with emphasis on “rest” and not “personal” to further shift attitudes
  • Pay for childcare provided by your network of family or friends using a daily stipend of $100 a day
  • Model behavior you are trying to promote as acceptable in the new normal. As leaders, admitting to taking time to reset and rest can have an instant impact on attitudes, behavior, and ultimately of the workplace culture, i.e., “Do as I do.”

Revolution is N.E.E.D. — Raegan Burden
This powerful keynote session with Burden was reaffirming and also a knock on existing ways of thinking about how to create sustainable change. First and foremost, Burden reminds everyone that “we are living through the historic social uprising.” The mounting attacks on Black bodies are no longer tolerable, and because of a seemingly serendipitous confluence of elements including a global pandemic and the much-publicized murder of George Floyd, there is a collective reevaluation of the status quo. Black people, now more than ever, are asking our leaders and social-network friends, “Where are the allies?” For all decision makers in companies across the country, the ask is this – develop and execute a Black strategic plan for your organization. The ask is NOT to solve racism but to make it impossible for racism and inequality to thrive within the organization. The “Black strategy” needs to be rooted in transparency to ensure it is long-term and creates the biggest impact. In an effort to hold ourselves accountable, Burden suggested these four steps for implementing the Black Strategic Plan:

  • N – Create the Necessary table for thought leadership. Remove the white lens of hierarchy. Rid the table of opposition. Invite every Black employee to the table.
  • E – Implement Equality throughout the organization, starting with including D&I in the operating budget, and make that budget a real one. Start with your current Black employees and ensure they are being promoted and paid equitably. Understand the inequities perpetuated when cultural intellectual capital is not properly compensated. Cultural intellectual capital, according to Burden, represents the often-unpaid contributions by Black employees who develop “Black strategies” using their own experiences and knowledge. Yet, proprietary research and knowledge are universally understood to be something worth paying for, especially within the marketing industry. Unless they are staffed to support an existing Black strategy, this is an unpaid contribution that erodes the authenticity of your burgeoning D&I strategy and plan.
  • E – Evolve your organization for consistency. Ensure that HR is fully staffed and held accountable. Your HR team has to be more than just a place where background checks occur. The primary role of HR in this process should be to enforce the anti-racist policies you are creating.
  • D – Duplicate the Black strategic plan across your diverse communities. The Black strategy does not end with one marginalized group. It continues to iterate to address the needs of all your diverse communities. If you cannot address the needs of Black employees, how can you address the needs of other historically marginalized groups?

Disrupting Your Recruiting Process to Reduce Bias — Linda Waste
“What gets in the way of successfully reducing bias in the industry and our own organization? Well, maybe it is you?!” This was the provocative start to a very informative session that left little room to blame others for the lack of diversity in the workplace. Waste challenges hiring managers and recruiters by asking, “How do we ensure we are not the barriers?” It starts with self-awareness and a mindful audit of the recruiting process to avoid a system of critical milestones that are all powered by human gut feeling when in fact, equity needs data to breathe. The reason diversity seems like an out-of-reach destination is that the stakeholders have not acquired or practiced the relevant skills needed to reduce the negative effects of implicit biases. No one has been taught how NOT to be biased, especially at work. We view portfolios and resumes using mental shortcuts all the time. We should focus on what is going to make someone good at the job. One thing that resonated was Waste’s observation that we continue to use antiquated thinking if we think the job descriptions we wrote before our newfound awareness are going to work for us in attracting new and diverse candidates. Linda provided a shortlist of “dos” to help reduce bias:

  • Treat it like a day job, especially if you are a leader. You need to hold your staff accountable.
  • Treat it like a project. Do not just hand off a request and job description to your recruiters and expect magic to happen. Get involved, set milestones, do research, strategize, and iterate your approach.
  • Train hiring managers to properly interview candidates so that they focus on clues that indicate how they might succeed in the role and contribute to the culture and business goals.
  • Write a brief. If there is nothing else that is taken away from this session, writing a brief, Waste noted, is the number one way to start on the right path toward solutions that work. Setting goals and measurable objectives, and outlining what “winning” looks like helps everyone move in unison toward a new expectation of successes with little ambiguity. Measuring and tracking results becomes a more widely adopted mindset and behavior that fosters accountability.

Lastly, and a closing action item that is fitting for the entire 3% conference this year – do the work. It is no longer enough to announce publicly; organizations must practice privately. Starting today, marketing companies must value footprints over echoes, that is, the evidence of takings steps toward change versus simply showing proof that something was said loudly. It is with a heaping serving of humility garnished with a dab of confidence that I can say Intouch Group is doing just that – leaving “footprints” of the good that will get us followed on our inclusion and diversity journey.

Antonio Rivera is Associate Director, Inclusion & Diversity at Intouch.