(L-R) TLF Alumna Kendra Croft, Diana Pinedo and Saata Bangura
From September 18-19, more than 700 professionals in the advertising, communications, ad tech and entertainment industries rallied together to champion over diversity and inclusion at the 11th annual ADCOLOR Conference. Tiffany Warren, Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer at Omnicom Group and Founder & President at ADCOLOR, has been a change agent her entire career. What started off as a small idea over a decade ago has exponentially grown into a massive movement and platform that has helped to form the next generation of diverse creators and content generators of color. This movement celebrates those who have paved the way beforehand, and awards the incredible ways that professionals of color are helping the needle to continue moving forward.
ADCOLOR is unique in the sense that when one attends, there is a built-in sense of community from day one – almost like a family reunion. Throughout the conference, there was a wide gamut of voices that covered topics and content that attendees could engage with and share through social media channels using the #ComeTogether hashtag. Speakers, panelists and honorees ranging from Snoop Dogg, Don Lemon and Bozoma Saint John to DeRay Mckesson, Elaine Welteroth, Morgan DeBaun and Jesse Williams, dove into a variety of topics. These topics included cultural and personal branding, the emotional power of virtual reality, the interconnectivity of social media and what being “woke” really means.
Here are my top six takeaways from ADCOLOR 2017:
1. Build your tribe. It is important to not only build your community, but also engage with it. Mentors, advisors, friends, colleagues, etc. are the ones who will help you guide and navigate the peaks and valleys of your career. Consider this combination of folks your own personal Board of Directors. Find the people who you can trust to give you honest and constructive feedback, be a good soundboard, hold you accountable and inspire you along your journey. Ultimately, the goal is to build a mutually beneficial relationship over the course of time.
2. We are all more connected than you think. In the digital world we live in, we are now more connected than ever. During the ADCOLOR screening of Viacom’s Culture of Proximity documentary, this was made very clear. Culturally, there are only a few degrees of separation in many cases. The silver lining is that this can be used to our advantage. We, as a culture, can use this proximity to promote conversation, action and change within the world around us – even with people we may not know on a personal level, but who we are connected to in some way. We all have our own individual platforms and a network of people in our proximity to help amplify that for good.
3. The time for silence is not now. There are so many platforms to use to sound off on what's important to you. Stand up for what you believe in, and don't be afraid to have brave, bold conversations that may be uncomfortable, but crucial in helping to move the needle forward. In the words of activist Maggie Kuhn, “Speak your mind – even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say.”
4. There's a distinct difference between diversity and inclusion. The two are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations think it's okay to just be diverse (or say they are) in order to fill quotas, but don’t actively create strategic initiatives, best practices and platforms to help integrate that diversity. As Trisch L. Smith, Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Edelman, so eloquently put it during a panel, "Diversity is inviting people to the party. Inclusion is asking them to dance."
5. Rise up and reach back. This is the underlying current of the ADCOLOR mission. Here are some tactical ways to do just that:
- Invest in ADCOLOR: volunteer for upcoming events, give feedback to the team, follow @adcolor on social media, and bring a friend to the next ADCOLOR Conference!
- Recommend speakers for industry panels and lists.
- Give back through mentorship.
About Saata Bangura:
With a Bachelor of Arts degree in studio arts and graphic design from Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and over 10 years of experience in the field, Bangura has been recognized by American Advertising Federation and Graphic Design USA for her work in graphic design and art direction.