Ad Age and Facebook partner on new virtual event series promoting diversity
This article has been updated.
Almost a year ago, the 2020 class of The List—the group of 30-odd marketing, advertising and media leaders, assembled by Ad Age in partnership with Facebook—decided to confront unconscious bias by focusing on addressing the diverse talent crisis in the industry. The List chose its mission because, the members argue, despite companies’ sincerest efforts at enacting DE&I initiatives for years, biases—conscious and unconscious—continue to prevent many from advancing to the levels they deserve, and so these talented professionals end up dropping out of the industry. The resulting lack of diverse representation in leadership creates a negative feedback loop that perpetuates the status quo.
To battle these countervailing forces and to effect real change, The List recently announced the creation of a pilot mentorship program. The initiative will leverage members’ collective industry and leadership experience specifically to help advance underrepresented professionals who are three to five years into their career to leadership levels. To help promote the mentorship program and shine a bigger spotlight on the group’s core mission, Facebook and Ad Age have partnered to create the Generation Next event series.
A joint production of The List and Facebook Elevate, Generation Next will be a live quarterly event series hosted on AdAge.com focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion in the industry. Each episode will feature a conversation between host Judy Toland, Facebook’s VP and head of scaled solutions, global business marketing, and a List member as well as diverse guest voices from the industry. In Episode 1, "What Will It Take to Create a Truly Diverse Workforce," Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 11:30 EST, Toland will be joined by The List member Walter Frye, VP of global brand engagement at American Express, and John Dioso, editor of Ad Age Studio 30. To RSVP, click here.
When The List met for the first time last February at the Modern restaurant in New York, little did the members know the challenges that lay ahead—and how unusual a gathering of that size in close quarters would end up becoming. The turmoil of the year just past—when COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the country’s physical, psychological and economic health; the rise of social justice protests against police violence brought about a long overdue reckoning on systemic racism; and an unusually contentious and partisan election resulted in an existential crisis of exactly what kind of society this nation will be in the future—only confirmed the righteousness of The List’s mission and steeled members’ resolve.
“It is upon us as an industry to act now to put programs in place that drive meaningful change and ensure that this is not a moment, but a movement." —Walter Frye, VP, global brand engagement, American Express
During an Advertising Week 2020 panel announcing the mentorship program in The Female Quotient’s Virtual Equality Lounge, Frye said the issue that prevents BIPOC professionals from advancing in their careers lies in the talent pipeline, but the problem isn’t caused by a lack of talent. It’s in the pipeline itself.
“It is upon us as an industry to act now to put programs in place that drive meaningful change and ensure that this is not a moment, but a movement,” says Frye. “I’m thrilled to see that corporations are already taking a broader view, working to remove biases and supporting efforts that address systematic injustices in our society.”
The common goal: Elevation
After crafting a mission statement, The List formed task forces to build a curriculum for prospective mentees and conduct outreach to partner with existing industry diversity initiatives to find the most deserving and in-need candidates for the program. When it came time to build the platform for The List’s mentorship program, the natural partner was already in the room.
Not only has Facebook continued the partnership with Ad Age to support The List with the classes of 2019 and 2020, but last year the company resolved to support Black, Latinx and Hispanic communities via a newly created program called Elevate. Elevate resolves to provide access to capital and resources for business development, as well as provide space for Black voices and stories, and build a more diverse and inclusive workplace internally within Facebook. In October, Facebook launched a new Elevate site to serve as a platform and community that will be the primary destination for Black, Latinx and Hispanic audiences to learn about its offerings and related resources from the Facebook family.
The Elevate team also partnered with Ten35, an advertising agency with a unique cultural lens where 85% of employees are people of color, and launched its first-ever brand campaign to drive awareness of the digital hub. The team brought in Temi Coker, a talented Black photographer and graphic designer whose vibrant colors and textures infused the brand campaign with a distinctive character and palpable energy.
“The intersection of Elevate and The List’s missions align with the intention to hasten the pace of meaningful change for underrepresented communities,” says Irene Walker, Elevate’s program director. “Both of our programs set out with a thoughtfulness and sincere commitment to develop authentic experiences and to redirect support and funding that Black and Brown professionals, job seekers and students have traditionally lacked. Together, Elevate and The List can make the kind of generational change needed to accelerate this transformation.”
Shauna Sweeney, Facebook’s head of global industry marketing, co-created The List with Ad Age President and Publisher Josh Golden in the final months of 2018 out of a membership pool consisting of Ad Age award winners such as Women to Watch, 40 Under 40, and A-List and Creativity honorees. Visit AdAge.com/thelist, AdAgeTheList.com and facebook.com/fbelevate for more information on Generation Next, as well as other upcoming events and content—including the soon-to-be announced List 2021.
It’s a new year, but the work continues.