ColorComm 2017: Earning Our Seat at the Table

Feeling a sense of belonging at this years’ Annual ColorComm Conference – Surprise Yourself, allowed us a peek at what a matriarchal society could look and feel like! If you’re not familiar, this conference attracted over 400 women of color (and a few good men) in communications at the mid- and senior-levels. This unique community is able to discuss important issues and learn from the best talent in the industry on taking your career to the next level. A microcosm of a matriarchal society. Cue the song by Beyoncé Girls Rule the World!

Few would disagree that women’s rights and human rights are at the core of our society’s character. Even today there are places in Asia, Africa, the Amercias and Oceania with matriarchal structures. None of these are simply a reversal of patriarchal structures but rather egalitarian. That means hierarchies, classes and domination of one gender over the other does not exist.

Equity does not mean a leveling of differences. The natural differences between gender, generations and ethnicities are honored in a matriarchal society and do not create hierarchies. At Ketchum, we want to nurture a culture built on that same sense of belonging for all.

At ColorComm, keynote speaker and host of ABC’s The View, Whoopi Goldberg, challenged attendees to know who you are, what you want and be willing to fight for it. When Whoopi couldn’t get work as an actress, she wrote her own “Fake-Shakespeare” to perform for auditions to show what she could do. Needless to say, it worked.

We were encouraged to find the things that will get us where we want to be and prepare for failure. It happens. As women, (and men) we have an obligation to help one another and not be afraid that, in doing so, those you help will take your place. Be generous and share what you know with others. It’s better to help the next generation of leaders than to be threatened by them. Earn your seat at the table, demand change and make room for others (click to tweet).

Connecting with women of color, and a few good men, was an electrifying experience. We shared and heard real talk. We were all challenged to be Chief Diversity Officers and truth-tellers in our organizations, which is never easy, but is always necessary. I was truly inspired by the fearlessness on display at the conference. Fear has no place in your success equation. Fear is simply false evidence of things appearing real.

Throughout the conference, each member of Ketchum’s delegation took time out to share his or her unique “15-Seconds of Inspiration” from ColorComm. Their responses, all featured below, left me inspired, empowered, and proud to Belong@Ketchum.

“Everyone’s title should be Chief Diversity Officer.”

“Stand up, earning your seat at the table, and demand sea change.”

“Sit at the table and make room for others.”

“Meeting wonderful, inspiring women of color within the Ketchum network.”

“The electricity that’s generated from everyone having a ‘real talk.'”

“I’m inspired by my colleague Lindsay Wagner speaking truths to a room full of women.”

“Make your executives accountable for meeting their D&I targets, just like they would their margins.”

“The opportunity to step outside of myself and see the world from other peoples perspectives.”

“Brands that haven’t been afraid to talk about corporate activism.”