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Diversity- a values issue and business imperative

We are in the business of influence.

Agencies globally convinced people that smoking was cool – until it wasn’t – and then convinced them to stop. They sell sweets and weight-loss to the same people at the same time and during these moments have made ‘being an Influencer’ a thing.

Perhaps, then, it’s time for us to harness that influence in a new direction.

It was refreshing to see HP’s exploration of diversity: a lively, personal and powerful call to arms with an enviable panel line up. Thandie Newton, British Vogue editor, Edward Enninful, Omnicom’s Chief Diversity Officer, Tiffany R. Warren and HP’s CMO, Antonio Lucio, ensured the session more than lived up to its promise.

Combining smart commentary with personal testimony, here are some of the headlines…

More is more.

Enninful grew up in Ladbroke Grove and was taught to embrace all ages, colours, sizes and opinions. His work tells stories about the world we live in. And that world is a vibrant one! If we embrace everyone in it – regardless of race, age, gender, hair colour, sexuality, socioeconomics – our work will be richer.

Discomfort is good.

Thandie Newton has encountered racism, sexism and misogyny throughout her life – she’s been made to feel she wasn’t good enough; less-than; an outsider. But she used that adversity to her advantage and has achieved some extraordinary things – including recently commanding HBO to commit to equal pay. Her message? Don’t box yourself in. Discomfort helps you grow.

Representation matters.

Tiffany R. Warren believes that diverse teams mean diverse thinking. Clients hold the purse strings so they’re key in driving this from within – interns and execs to copywriters and CFOs, we need representation in front of and behind the camera at every level so we can normalise what used to be marginalised.

Diversity is good for business… and now we can prove it.

Treat diversity like any other business goal – set objectives, measure, review. Be intentional and stick to it. HP has committed to hiring more female directors and has already seen tangible results: brand preference is up by 26%, revenue per impression is up by 33% and overall business growth up by 13%.

Final thoughts from the panel? We’re in a good place but that’s not good enough. There’s more work to do. So get to it…

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Annie currently works as a Creative Strategist at OMD UK. Annie sits as part of Fuse, a marketing agency specialising in experiences and partnerships within Omnicom Media Group.

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