As one of the few black female leaders in advertising, Corean Canty, COO, Goodway Group has an informative perspective on what agencies can and should do internally to develop a diverse workforce.
Canty spoke to MediaPost about her experiences, learnings and offers her guidance about what the broader advertising community can do during this current social crisis.
Awareness is the most important part of this dialogue, she says. “Boost inclusion efforts to have an authentic voice with relative perspectives in decision making and content-creating roles,” she explains. “Most importantly, the industry must continue efforts even once the media attention inevitably shifts. Just because the headlines aren’t covering inclusion and diversity anymore, doesn’t mean the conversation is over.”
She herself is paying attention to the companies that “keep their heads raised” once the media attention has moved on. She recognizes many companies are currently chiming in with their support and good intentions, but “what we can all do right now is recognize that there is a long way to go and that real change is a long term commitment,” she says. “The brands and companies who can commit to that will be the real agents of change.”
She offers simple starting ideas like offering to sponsor external networking groups and helping to facilitate mentorship connections across executive networks. She joined the digital marketing firm in 2015, rising to COO in January 2019 and says diversity is represented across the entire executive leadership team. Nonetheless, she believes “it isn’t enough to have a diverse team. You must also supply your team with the necessary resources and connections to help them succeed.”
Canty believes incremental change can make a big difference. If you have people of color (POC) in your organization, start by talking to them, she recommends. Ask them about their experience and how the company can improve. “Most importantly: listen. Right now, we are all learning. Continue to examine your practices and hire someone who can help build strong diversity and inclusion programs.”
Ideally, Canty says companies should be intentionally building a diverse workforce from the get-go, but for agencies that are established and looking to build a more diverse workforce, accessibility is a key consideration.
Still, there is a misconception that there is a shortage or lack of diverse talent out there, she says. For agencies looking for content creators, she recommends using hashtag searches such as #blackcontentcreators or #blackengineers to see work and portfolios on Twitter. “Social media is a recruiting resource that can be highly overlooked but filled with talent,” she says.
Another approach to attracting and fostering relationships is to connect with diverse colleges and high schools. Companies can help by supporting STEM and Art programs to establish a future pipeline of diverse talent.
She admits it can be hard being one of the few persons of color in the room. “It's really important to have those advocates and there's not always a lot of intentional systems in place to be able to allow those things to grow and thrive.”
There are some companies that are starting
to put diversity and inclusion programs in place or intentionally starting to hire with diversity top-of-mind but “we have a long ways to go.”