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DEI + Culture


DEI: Continued commitment, one year later

DEI + Culture / 6.18.21 / By Jessica Savage

This past spring, members of our leadership team participated in the University of South Florida Muma College of Business Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace certificate program. Our local PRSA chapter promoted the program, which was open to all who were interested, free of charge.

We embraced the gift.

We learned about self-awareness and empathy, critical skills of leading diversity and inclusion; stereotypes and biases; how to assess where we are in our diversity and inclusion mission and how to shift to action; how to attract and retain diverse talent; how to align our DEI commitments internally and externally in the communities we operate within; and finally, how to ensure our DEI philosophy has a long-term focus that’s built to last.

As individuals leading empowered teams on our DEI journey, we have so much to learn as we work to elevate our consciousness around cultivating, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce while provoking progress through our craft on behalf of our clients and their brands.

We’re fueling the commitments we made a year ago with action and heart because it makes good sense for humanity and for business.

According to the World Federation of Advertisers, more progressive and inclusive brands perform better. But it’s not brand or business performance that drives our desire to be better.

Most importantly, according to the Great Place to Work Institute, diverse and inclusive workplaces earn deeper trust and more commitment from their employees. As a people-first organization, that’s our chief motivator. People and profits? Yes. DEI efforts are worthy of our attention and focus as leaders because having a long-term DEI strategy helps our communities, individuals and businesses thrive.

Heather C. McGhee, author of “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” said recently on Ibram Kendi’s podcast Be Antiracist, “Diversity is America’s superpower and yet we so often don’t tap into it.” How is your business tapping into diversity?

At Dixon Schwabl, we’re continuing to learn how to become a more diverse and inclusive organization by reading, listening and engaging in critical conversations around inclusion, diversity, equity and action. We’re growing connections across our region to help bring diversity in and fostering a culture where our team members feel they can safely speak their truths, ask questions, and open minds to diversity of thought and experiences. We’re developing our work and evaluating it through our IDEA review-before-release panel to ensure it doesn’t perpetuate the unconscious biases that have historically afflicted marketing and advertising. And we’re refining our approach each and every time as we acquire new guidance like that from the WFA’s “Diversity & Representation: Guide to potential areas for bias in the creative process” and Regina M. Lutrell, Syracuse University and Adrienne A. Wallace, Grand Valley State University’s Diversity & Inclusion Wheel for PR Practitioners. We’re challenging ourselves to create and develop at the intersection of art and science, exploring the boundaries of technology, creativity and accessibility by pushing our work to meet ever-evolving web accessibility standards.

Our client, vendor and community partners are holding us accountable to our DEI mission, asking us how and what we’re doing in this space, sharing ideas and learnings, and challenging us to continue to think and behave with DEI at the heart of our work—and we are reciprocating by sharing knowledge, recommendations and perspectives in our shared space.

As the saying goes, the biggest room in any house is the room for improvement. We have work to do.

What we endeavor to learn and experience—and how we courageously take action to tap into America’s diversity superpower—will lead to stronger communities, more thriving businesses and the advancement of the greater good.

With Community as one of our core values and our IDEA mission as one of our organization’s key strategic initiatives, our focus will not waver.

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Jessica Savage

Jessica is inspired by smart ideas, generosity—and the people all around her. At DS+CO, her leadership inspires doing good and doing good work. She sits on the SUNY Geneseo Foundation Board and is a member of the United Way Women’s Leadership Council and Girls on the Run of Greater Rochester Advisory Board. She’s DEI certified, has led multiple award-winning client teams and is an Urban League of Greater Rochester Power Broker. And she’s fueled by curiosity, collaboration and co-creation, helping her teams elevate brands, break down barriers and leave a mark on our community.