Introducing strategy’s Diversity and Inclusion advisory board

In addition to the inaugural board, the publication has also committed to specific goals for its conferences and advisory boards.

D&I Advisory Board

Pictured, clockwise from top-left: Rethink’s Dhaval Bhatt, Telus’ Danica Nelson, Corus Tempo’s Terry Rogers, Initiative’s Ishma Alexander-Huet, Breakfast Culture’s Jefferson Darrell, Dairy Farmers of Canada’s Sabrina Babooram

Earlier this summer, strategy and Media in Canada pledged to do better when it comes to elevating voices of colour across our editorial products and programs.

In the wake of ongoing racial justice protests calling for an end to systemic racism in Canada and around the world, we committed to holding ourselves accountable and to using our platforms to help drive lasting change. As a voice and forum for the marketing industry in Canada, we will continue to highlight issues impacting Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) – and all marginalized people – as well as bring people and organizations together to help solve them.

As a first step towards that commitment, strategy and Media in Canada convened a Diversity & Inclusion advisory board whose goal is to offer a critical perspective and to advise the publications on our diversity and inclusion efforts. The initial focus is addressing the role our publications can play in the industry’s efforts to increase BIPOC equity within the marketing industry, and going forward, we envision expanding the group’s scope and makeup to address other forms of discrimination and prejudice.

The inaugural board consists of six members of the industry who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Colour, representing various disciplines, functions and levels of seniority across creative, media, communications and PR, brand marketing and account management. They are:

Ishma Alexander-Huet, VP of client advice and management, Initiative
Sabrina Babooram, community partnerships lead, Dairy Farmers of Ontario
Dhaval Bhatt, creative director, Rethink
Jefferson Darrell, founder, Breakfast Culture
Danica Nelson, senior product marketing communications manager, Telus
Terry Rogers, account manager, Corus Tempo

During an initial board meeting in June, our team took the opportunity to listen and to learn how the industry views our role in supporting D&I in the industry.

A significant focus will be using our platforms to bring to light issues of race in marketing and to share thought leadership, in order to support and help galvanize industry efforts to do better. We have already begun having many of those conversations and will continue to have them as long as racial disparities and prejudice exist.

In addition to our daily and weekly editorial coverage, we recognize the influence accorded to those who participate in our events as speakers, advisory board members and jurors, and will double down on efforts to ensure they represent the diverse makeup of our industry and society.

Over the next few years, we will strive to have our conference speakers, advisory boards and jury panels reflect the diversity of the Canadian population, using Statistics Canada census projections as our guide.

Pan-industry data covering the client and agency worlds is not readily available, making current industry diversity and inclusion status difficult to use as a benchmark. So, as we strive to represent the Canadian industry as a whole, we believe our goals should be based on national statistics. And here’s why that’s important: the industry’s mission is to speak inclusively to all Canadians, so the people creating marketing content – and thereby influencing culture – should understand, respect and reflect the cultural reality of the entire audience.

Aligning ourselves with national Statistics Canada data means that, beginning with events in 2021, we will aim to have our speakers, advisory board members and jurors be 3.4% Black, 22.1% PoC and 5.1% Indigenous. By 2023, we plan to have their representation grow again in lockstep with general population projections, reaching 4.1% Black, 23.4% PoC, and 5.4% Indigenous.

In some cases, this will require moving the needle as many as 13 percentage points between now and the end of the next year. As part of our commitments, we will publicly report our data once we have the systems in place to track it accordingly.

At times, the realities of our industry may impact the ability to achieve these goals. For instance, early data suggests Indigenous people do not make up 5% of the marketing and communications industry in Canada. However, we believe aiming for a vision of what the industry should be – not what it is today – benefits everyone in the marketing community.