The 6th annual ColorComm Conference has now come and gone, and we’re all still basking in the glory of it all. C2 Miami 2019 did just what it set out to do: bring together a dynamic group of multicultural, highly-talented professional women in communications for learning, critical thinking and networking.
Though the conference was held in Miami, Florida, it wasn’t all sun, fun and food. The Ketchum delegation went there with the goal of hearing different perspectives and to bring those learnings back to the agency. In every session we attended over the course of those three days, we asked ourselves, “How can our learnings from this be applied to how we create a culture of Belonging at Ketchum that is truly felt by every single employee?” While ColorComm focuses on women of color in our industry, implications of the learnings we brought back are much more wide-reaching for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Before the delegation headed to the conference, I said I was excited to learn from and with other women of color in the industry; to hear about how other companies are working to build inclusive workplaces and note some best practices. I also wanted to allow myself to be challenged by rich discussions. Now, thinking back on the conference, I am proud to say that I accomplished all I had hoped to there. I am filled with gratitude and inspiration thanks to all the talented women and men who boldly shared their stories, professional journeys, insights into how to make organizations more inclusive, and the ways in which they candidly reached out for the help and guidance needed to enact bold change.
My biggest takeaway from the conference was that all companies and brands have a complex journey to undergo when creating a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It is not just about making the decision to commit to DE&I; it is about becoming self-aware. Becoming self-aware as an organization means thinking about our behaviors, our driving beliefs and our values. Joanna Barsh of McKinsey & Company taught us that, to truly create a positive shift in culture, we have to be ready to test, learn and perhaps fail quickly. Many thought leaders across industries also say they believe in a “fail fast” approach. It’s a profound notion, one that many companies and brands may be hard-wired to shy away from. However, the faster you’re willing to try, learn, adapt, and try again, the faster change and innovation can happen. And that’s nothing to shy away from.
Here’s what the rest of the 2019 Ketchum delegation took away from C2 Miami…
Gina Seaman, VP, Human Resources Director: As a second time attendee, I continue to be inspired by the many accomplishments women of color in communications are achieving every day in their field. It also reminded me that there is still more work to be done in how companies can attract, retain and develop this incredible talent. As one of the speakers explained regarding diversity hiring and retention, “you can’t be what you can’t see.”
Michele Lanza, Partner, Global Acquisition and Retention Strategies: My second year at Color Comm did not disappoint. For me, the experience is both incredibly energizing (it’s truly amazing to be around such remarkable women—and a few men) and at the same time challenging. It’s painful to hear story after story of the challenges women of color still face in the communication industry. It’s an important reminder that we still have a lot of work to do to make sure everyone feels a sense of belonging in our organizations. And of course, because I always wear my recruiter hat… I did meet a few future Ketchumites at the conference!
Jenn Bins, Vice President, Marketplace Leader, Atlanta: I walked away learning to “throw glitter and not shade.” We have to continue to hold each other accountable in uplifting everyone no matter what level, gender or skin tone.
Dr. Quinetta Roberson, Fred J. Springer Endowed Chair in Business Leadership in the School of Business at Villanova University and Ketchum DE&I Advisory Board Member: Keynote speaker Ann Curry said that “what makes you different is your greatest gift,” which resonates with me given that I think Ketchum could apply what it does best to do some behavior-leadership in the DE&I space. Ketchum excels at innovation, so it’s time to move beyond others’ “best practices” and innovate.