Creating heroes- diversity not mass produced.
BAME 2020 was a movement born out of a frustration of where was the BAME talent in the marketing industry, and why was it so difficult to keep those rising stars? I was proud to be invited to be an advisor, the power is the ambassador network of young talent and the BAME2020 events.
Last night I went to a BAME2020 event and I witnessed some excellent storytelling from aspiring marcomms professionals sharing their frustrations with the unconscious bias present within the industry and some leaders intent on forcing through positive change.
My key takeout’s and thoughts.
One lady shared that it is difficult to have conversations with your manager about bias or limited opportunities if you are from a minority and it's sometimes easier to walk away. There was support that it has to start with an honest conversation otherwise bias remains unconscious.
One example of how to do it well, came from a young man who thought long and hard about how to communicate with his boss (a comic book fan) in a positive manner.
“Look I get that you are Batman, but I am good enough and want to be Robin. I’m not going to be Alfred”
If that is not an example of identifying with your audience and finding a way to cut through I don't know what is.
We have to celebrate at all levels that diversity is about coming in to make a positive change, not about fitting into what exists. We talk a lot about disruption and transformation, this is where it needs to start.
Bringing in diverse voices in the industry has to be about affecting the bottom line. That is the language that senior directors listen to or are judged on. But let’s be positive who wants to be mass produced, one size fits all, plastic. Surely the answer is richer, deeper, unique, differentiated?
So much discrimination comes from a place of unconsciousness and ignorance. That means that we have to move this from unconsciously unconscious to full consciousness, appreciating the impact of our actions. This is difficult and requires confrontation.
But confrontation doesn’t have to be a negative.
Sam my co-host on Marketing Transformed, talks about his personal challenges. His heritage is Ghanaian, but his route to Philadelphia was via Luton in the UK, Switzerland and Germany. That’s part of the rich story and you should listen to him talk about it on the podcast. You have to look for diverse views and build it into your way of thinking as it powers better marketing.
I believe marketing is about good storytelling and I truly believe that to make a difference the stories have to be told.
So what am I going to do about it.
I’m going to carry on mentoring talent from diverse backgrounds.
I’m going to keep telling stories about how diversity is empowering not limiting.
I’m going to question my own biases and tendency to stick to what I know rather than looking beyond my own immediate network.
And I’m going to keep listening.