• Part 8 of 8: Diversity is a Competitive Business Advantage

    Whether you’re managing a large group or a small team, the ability to navigate a cross-cultural environment gives you a leg up on the competition. “I think that if the advertising and creative industries are going to flourish and do the best work possible, we’ll have to become more culturally savvy and diverse in order to create innovative ideas that will resonate powerfully with ethnically and culturally diverse audiences here and around the world,” says Judith Harrison, Senior Vice President of staffing, diversity and inclusion at Weber Shandwick.

    The Creative Mosaic

    How creative teams will change culturally in the next three to five years:

    Mixing It Up

    Data from the 2010 U.S. Census revealed profound shifts in demographic trends that will have major implications for marketers. For one, more focus will likely shift to advertising to the Hispanic community – and for good reason. As a result of above-average population growth and improved earning power over the past three decades, Hispanics have been responsible for an ever-increasing share of consumer buying power in the United States 2, a trend that is expected to continue.

    Data also showed that there is a large and growing subpopulation of people who checked two race boxes on their census form. Robert Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, explains that a multicultural population means that targeting communication to single cultures using one message will become less effective. “We need to know how race and ethnic groups are blending with others to effectively target messages with both cultures in mind.” 3

    There’s no doubt that globalization and technology are making the world smaller. Weber Shandwick’s Harrison says more organizations are beginning to recognize diversity as a business necessity rather than a compliance issue or a “nice thing to do.” And being a part of a multicultural team will help when it comes to addressing changing consumer demographics.

    Saatchi & Saatchi’s Baglivo predicts a more diverse and collaborative workforce in the future, too. “Organizational structures are going to change and be very different. They’ll be less vertical and more horizontal, and less command-and-control and more team-oriented – and certainly more diverse,” she explains. At Saatchi & Saatchi, Baglivo says that they’ve hired creative people who come from very different backgrounds, including film, TV production, education, comedy and even anthropology – which adds up to an environment that is more conducive to creativity.

    Boost Your Cultural Confidence

    Want to set yourself up for cross-cultural success? Here are a few simple ideas:

    • Learn a second language. More than half (57 percent) of AAF Ad Club members we surveyed said it will be somewhat important for creative professionals to speak a second language in the next five years; another 17 percent said it will be very important.

    • Get involved with industry organizations with a focus on diversity. A few to try: AAF Mosaic Center, ADCOLOR®, NAMIC (National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications) and NAMD (National Alliance of Market Developers). They’ll help you network and learn about issues surrounding marketing and diversity.

    • Read up. For best practices for diversity in organizations, try DiversityInc magazine. Or find out how diversity fosters innovation with The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson.

    Donna Farrugia is Executive Director at The Creative Group, a division of specialized staffing leader Robert Half International Inc., which specializes in placing highly skilled creative, advertising, marketing, web and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. Read the entire white paper, “The Creative Group of the Future.”

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