Advice to encourage D&I efforts at agencies and more with Wallye Holloway, Associate Managing Partner, TBWA\WH

Does your company/agency have any D&I initiatives? If so, what are they? What D&I initiatives are you most proud your company supports?

  • Yes, at TBWA\WH we have our DiversiTeam group. Started by Karina Salinas and Olivia Nguyen, this team focuses on ensuring that our diverse group of people have a voice and feel included.
    • Our mission: To strengthen our environment, culture, and creative work by hiring and understanding unique individuals with different experiences, backgrounds, and personalities.
  • One initiative started by this group is #BlackHealthNow. The #BlackHealthNow initiative is focused on shining a light on inequality in healthcare for Black Americans and offering solutions that can impact change.

Can you share something that happened recently that indicates we may be losing ground in diversifying our workforce? Tell us about something that has happened recently that demonstrates there’s still a diversity and inclusion problem in the industry?

  • In my industry (healthcare) we are slowly gaining some ground. I am starting to see an increase in diverse groups represented – Black, Hispanic, Asian Americans, LGBTQ – in our agencies.
  • And our DiversiTeam initiatives such as #BlackHealthNow, our Pride Month programs that demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community, and initiatives which celebrate different ethnic and racial groups are important because it sends a message to these communities that we see you, we hear you, and you are welcomed here.
  • Overall, I think we have come a long way, but the controversy ignited by the Gucci sweater and headpiece is one recent example of why we still have work to do. Also, some industries (banking, automotive and insurance) are still not increasing diversity in their ads to the degree that other industries are – healthcare, retail and food.

Can you share an example that highlights that the advertising industry is making progress?

  • Healthcare – we tend to more consistently represent the patient populations that suffer from the disease conditions for which our brands are indicated.
  • And as I mentioned I am also slowing seeing more diversity in our workforce – though it’s still not enough.

What are some tips/advice to encourage D&I efforts at agencies?

  • Go to the schools where you will find a more diverse pool of candidates. 
  • Be intentional in your efforts to find diverse talent.
  • Ask your employees that represent the different groups what the right approach should be – they should be a part of shaping your efforts here.
  • Actively demonstrate to your employees and to potential candidates that your D&I initiatives are taken seriously and that your commitment is real.

How important is it to hire diverse talent in our industry? Why?

  • First, it’s important that our industry have talent from all groups because that reflects America.
  • It’s also important to ensure we have diverse talent so that we don’t have the recent missteps that we’ve seen.
  • We need to have people that represent the populations that we market our brands to. It only makes sense that those people have a seat at the conference room table when ad campaigns are being considered.