For this year’s Diversity and Inclusion Champion of the Year, the Creativity Awards jury was compelled to honor two leaders—one who strives to address DEI through creativity and internal programs at his agency, and another who has had a measurable DEI impact on a corporate level within her organization.
Droga5's Kevin Brady and Edelman's Lisa Osborne Ross address DEI on multiple fronts
For Kevin Brady, executive creative director at Droga5, it may not be his prime responsibility to tackle issues of diversity and inclusion, but such thinking has been baked into the array of initiatives he has introduced. Among those is the D5in10 Academy. The free program, going into its fourth year, has given diverse young talents a 10-week portfolio building program taught by the agency’s best creatives, resulting in many of them landing ad jobs.
Brady took a creative angle to raising staffers’ awareness of their unconscious biases with “Editing for Equality,” which includes a proofreading mark used during copy editing that alerts staffers if their work has “lexical asymmetries,” such as the use of “men and girls.” Along with Laura Standley, the agency’s director of copy and language, Brady co-wrote a companion book to educate team members on how to avoid biases in concepting, writing and casting. Equally important, he brings his efforts to the work, evident in inclusive campaigns for brands including Shea Moisture, Honey Maid and YMCA.
Edelman U.S. CEO Lisa Osborne takes on the task from a completely different angle—straight from the C-suite. A year ago, when the former U.S. chief operating officer stepped into her new post, she became the first Black woman to lead an agency of Edelman’s size. Since then, she has raised the bar on how to address DEI. She achieved the agency’s goal to make 30% of its U.S. team and 20% of leadership BIPOC by 2022 a year early. She’s also helping clients navigate injustice with initiatives such as the Floyd Forward Task Force, and instituted talks across the network to address violence against the AAPI community and more. She also backs her team’s ideas and supported a young colleague inspired by the lack of trust in the finance sector among Black consumers, leading to a key piece of agency IP— “Addressing Racism in America’s Financial System.”
In honoring both executives, the Creativity Awards jury wanted to send a message to the industry at large. “Diversity is such a big animal,” said Juror Lewis Williams, executive VP and head of brand impact at Weber Shandwick, “and it might take multiple fronts to tackle this monster. The two of them are coming at it from different ways.”
“There isn’t one-size-fits-all,” said Jury Chair Chaka Sobhani, global chief creative officer at Leo Burnett. “The onus is on each of us in the context of our roles. One is not better than the other. They’re equally powerful and necessary. Awarding the two is demonstrative of the full expanse of the types of initiatives we need.”