Restoring The Soul Of Business With The U7 – A Focus On Inclusion and Diversity

What the ad industry needs to do to promote greater diversity and inclusion was the main topic of discussion at our second virtual U7 event last week.

For those who are not sure, in a nutshell, the U7 is our brand, publisher and agency-powered council. It was set up to create a dialogue with the industry so they can play an active role in shaping the future of digital marketing for the better.

The latest event, hosted by ex-Unruly CEO and Global Head Of Advertising Strategy at News Corp, Norm Johnston, explored diversity and inclusion within the industry, including what’s not working, where we need to improve and what needs to be put in place to help us move forward as a more diverse and open industry.

Advertising guru, author, advisor and speaker Rishad Tobaccowala kicked off the session exploring themes from his new book,Restoring the Soul of Business”, which touches on the many experiences and challenges he’s faced working in the ad industry in the US.

He gave advice to the attendees, including how to foster a good work environment, how to build an age-friendly workplace, the importance of getting the balance right between data and creativity, and, as the future continues to look uncertain, what leaders need to put in place to navigate the next six months.

Rishad was followed by Unruly’s VP Insights Terence Scroope, who ran through the work we’ve been doing on helping brands identify stereotypes in their advertising. He shone a spotlight on brands that have pivoted their branding and messaging in response to increased awareness around the Black Lives Matter movement.

The session ended with a panel of experts discussing successful D&I initiatives that they’ve seen deliver change. The panel was moderated by Brian McComak, Inclusion Consultant and Founder of Hummingbird Humanity, and panellists included Harriet Kingaby, Co-chair of The Conscious Advertising Network, Lauren Ogudeko, Head of Response & Board Director​ Co-Chair Multicultural Board at PHD/Omnicom Media Group, Sarah Mansfield, EMEA Media Director at Unilever, and Rishad.

The panel discussed a number of different topics, including the best way to challenge leaders to ensure diverse voices are heard, the necessity of creating a psychologically safe environment in the workplace and what brands need to do to ensure their advertising is diverse.

Launched back in 2018, the U7’s founding members included global brands Diageo, Nestle, Unilever, GSK and The Wall Street Journal. The council has since grown from its seven founders to 26 core members. Newest additions include leaders from Ford, Mars, Universal McCann, and Bank of America.

If you’d like to find out about joining the U7, please reach out to me at [email protected].