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DEI + Culture


It's Time for Action

DEI + Culture / 6.17.20 / By Mike Schwabl

Look in the Mirror

At Dixon Schwabl, we deal in words and images. But mere words will not bring about the changes our world, our nation, our friends, our families and our future demand. Empty promises of equality and meaningless pledges of inclusion are easy. It’s time to do what is hard. It’s time for action.

That starts with each of us looking in the mirror and asking what we can do to be better. Grand actions are needed worldwide—and we support the groundswell for Black Lives Matter. If change is truly to take hold, it has to take hold on an individual level—organization by organization, person by person. Here are just some of the actions we are taking at Dixon Schwabl. We hope they will inspire more ideas from you. Most of all, we hope they will change hearts and minds.

Let people speak their mind

At the onset of this national outcry for justice, our vice president of people and development arranged for a series of small online group discussions to allow our team members to safely and openly share their feelings and discuss what we could each do to make a difference. It was revealing and therapeutic. And it was the catalyst for the list of actionable ideas you are about to read.

Reach out to bring diversity in

The fact is that we are a team of more than 100 marketing professionals, with only 2% Black team members. There is no way to justify those numbers. Yes, we’ve tried to do all the “right” things to make our agency more diverse and inclusive … we’ve encouraged field trips from city schools to explore opportunities in advertising and marketing, we’ve had team members teach workshops through the Business Opportunity Program and Junior Achievement, and we’ve made sure we were represented at numerous job fairs. But it hasn’t been enough. That’s why we are reaching out to the Urban League in both Buffalo and Rochester to help connect us with emerging leaders who have the talents and drive to help us grow. If you don’t have connections to the Black community, reach out.

Read, learn & discuss

Two of our team members have volunteered to run a book club featuring works on racism, privilege and unconscious bias. The agency will be purchasing several copies of How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi to kick off their efforts. Education is and has always been the first step to real change.

Make Diversity, Equality & Inclusion a measurable mandate

We have many team-run initiatives at Dixon Schwabl, and DEI has always been included in our People & Development initiative. We are now making DEI its own initiative with a dedicated panel to promote actions with measurable results. One such mandate is that a minimum of 25% of our agency’s board affiliations will support minority or racial equality organizations by end of 2022.

Review before release

We will develop a process by the end of 2020 for all major client campaigns to be reviewed by our DEI panel before release. Only by looking through this lens can we be assured that we will not perpetuate the unconscious biases that have afflicted marketing and advertising for far too long.

“Make It Happen”

At Dixon Schwabl, each of our team members are given a paid “Make It Happen” day to volunteer at the charity of their choice. We will be awarding additional “Make It Happen” days to all team members supporting antiracism organizations. Currently, two team members are working on developing a series of free workshops for small, minority-owned businesses and budding entrepreneurs. Topics for these workshops will include “How to run a Facebook campaign” and “How to create powerful videos and photographs for the web.” This will allow all our team members the opportunity to share their professional skills in a meaningful way.

Share every step with each other

We have set up a shared file on Microsoft Teams to allow our team members to share their actions and ideas to promote antiracism in our community. These range from sharing inspirational podcasts to sharing a list of Black-owned restaurants and businesses we can support.

Alone, each of these actions may be a small step, but they are all steps along the journey to lasting change. We hope you’ll join us as we reach for a genuine antiracist future—together.

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Mike Schwabl

At the heart of every great story is a great storyteller. And Mike is one of the best. Because his passion is helping people and companies succeed by showing the world who they are. It’s how he’s helped grow DS+CO into the agency it is today. Mike believes in using your talents, time and treasure to help others, and that’s exactly the spirit he’s built into his team from day one. The truth is, DS+CO wouldn’t be what it is if Mike wasn’t who he is: someone who gives his all back to his community. His involvement runs deep. Daystar Kids, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Ronald McDonald House Charities, United Way of Greater Rochester, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Monroe Community College and many more. Every single one lifting others up. Just like Mike.