These Women Leaders Weigh in on How to Foster Inclusivity | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

These Women Leaders Weigh in on How to Foster Inclusivity


Gender equality in the workforce still has a ways to go, especially when it involves women in leadership positions — and their job security. According to a McKinsey study, as mentioned in SeeHer and dentsu's report "The State of Women's Equality in the U.S.: Advancing Equality for Black, Hispanic, and Latinx Women," "women's jobs were 1.8 times more vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic than men's jobs."

This is a problem. The study went on to suggest that this could result in tremendous global GDP loss ($1 trillion lower in 2030), suggesting that companies can reverse the possible negative effects if inclusive actions take place, stating that "taking action now to advance gender equality could add $13 trillion to global GDP in 2030, compared with no action." 

The study also found that women don't feel accurately portrayed, which not only suggest advertisements still have a long way to go — but so do hiring and retainment practices. For instance, the report found that only 18 percent of Black women feel accurately portrayed compared to 31 percent of Hispanic and Latinx women and 25 percent of white women.

Part of this is a lack of women in leadership and other integral roles, both in the workforce and in media, as the report said 60 percent of respondents felt there is a lack of "female role models." Fifty-percent of respondents want to see brands donate to organizations dedicated to empowering and advancing women.

How can this change? Hiring and fostering a diverse work environment to create connection, authenticity, community, and nuance.

Below are quotes from five women in the marketing industry on how to create a better environment for all:

"There's opportunity beyond just your short-form content. There's opportunity to take a percentage of the billions of dollars that you spend and invest it in new storytellers. Create opportunities and lanes for people of color women, Latina, and Black women to be the storytellers, to create the stories that speak to the richness that we're talking about."

Sheereen Russell, SVP of advertising sales and inclusive content monetization strategy at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

"For me, it's also about making sure that you get the nuances right. There's nothing that demonstrates that you really don't know the audience, then, for instance, when you get the accent wrong, when you got the music wrong. We've said that a bunch of times, but at the end of the day, that really becomes very important. And secondly, the marketers need to invest the proper budgets. It's great to have Latina characters. It's great to have Latino movies and films, but if they do not have the proper marketing that their counterparts would, then they're going to struggle."

Mónica Gil, EVP, chief administrative and marketing officer at NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises

"The advice that I would give is speak with your current employees who may have some type of background in diversity, or might just be a part of that community, and really listen to what their needs are and get some feedback on the direction that they would send you in. Because for instance, if it's in tech, I'm not quite sure how I would approach that, but if you're already working with a coder or developer, they can definitely gravitate toward their friends or school or a group that they've been in.

So, I think the first step is to really find out what the issues are internally in your company and how the internal people can help you build that connection with the community that you're lacking.

I think to really engage the community, you have to be where they are. Whatever community that is, whatever minority or multicultural group you're looking for, you have to actually invest time and resources at every single layer. If you're hiring from a director level, then those executives probably know other agencies, other Black PR firms, other Black creative agencies that can be a part of your pipeline. Engage and become familiar with more people, even if it's from a Q&A standpoint, even if it's saying, 'I wanted to touch base and learn who are you guys working with.' Even if you went and said to 10 or 15 recruiters, "I really want to just focus on this, bring me everything that you have." I'm sure that you would then develop some momentum and a pipeline that you could trust."

Erin Harris, CMO of tequila brand Lobos 1707

"The work of multicultural fundraising is not the work of one person. It's the work of an enterprise. The secret for success is authenticity. What is your cause solving for? What value are you bringing to that segment?"

Evelyn Homs Medero, SVP of strategic partnerships and multicultural marketing at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital — ALSAC

"You also want to make a concerted effort to surround yourself with a diverse group of people. And once you do that and start to have a conversation, then you'll start to get to know your audience. You'll get to know the tactics you can use and how to reach them."

Guilda Hilaire, senior manager of product marketing at Salesforce:

Joanna Fragopoulos is a director of editorial and content development at ANA.

The views and opinions expressed in Industry Insights are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.