Our recent accessmatters session with Manifest Brand Strategy Director and Head of Diversity & Inclusion Julian Obubo centred on the importance of developing diverse agencies and how everyone can be anti-racist.
Talking through the possibility of working with clients who use racist language, or who don’t even realise their own prejudices, Julian shared how vital it is for all of us to educate ourselves on systemic racism to create a better environment for everyone working in the public relations industry.
We ran out of time to answer all of the questions that came in during the session, so Julian has very kindly answered the additional questions regarding Blueprint status and getting clients – and colleagues – onboard with diverse representation…
How should agencies talk to clients about ensuring diversity in campaigns – particularly when expecting potential defensiveness/hostility?
Making the case to clients is getting easier as they can see examples of brands that have been called out for failing to recognise diversity. However, while shame can be a great catalyst to change, it is not as sustainable as getting your clients on board with a basic understanding and appreciation for diversity. That starts with being equipped to make the case beyond the ‘everyone is doing it’ argument. It involves being conversant with articulating the causative factors for the lack of diversity in campaigns – i.e. racism.
These conversations need to be constructive in order to be productive. No one responds well if they feel singled out, but at the same time, change cannot happen if defensiveness isn’t challenged.
For The Blueprint status, how often is it checked to ensure you’re still following the guidelines?
Agencies have to reapply every two years.
What happens if a comms team is passionate about improving diversity and inclusion, but the org’s leadership (C-suite/board) isn’t?
That’s usually a recipe for disaster. For diversity and inclusion to be taken seriously, there has to be support and accountability from the very top. If there’s intransigence but not resistance from leadership, the comms team can move ahead with implementing some D&I initiatives, prove they work, get buy-in from the wider team and then take that success to leadership as proof that more needs to be done.
If an agency’s motto is ‘we lead with diversity’ what should we expect to see from them?
A diverse team, first of all, and client work that shows the agency values diversity.
Watch the accessmatters session with Manifest’s Julian Obubo as well as our previous session with InFusion Comms’ Sara Hawthorn on the Access Intelligence accessmatters hub. Our next session is on Wednesday 14 October from 11am and will be with Melissa Lawrence from the Taylor Bennett Foundation – register to join us tomorrow.