This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BBIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.
This post is authored by Kerel Cooper, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at LiveIntent.
The fights for racial equality of 2020 have been a catalyst for companies and organizations to rethink their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. Across the board, companies and organizations are thinking about how they recruit and develop more diverse talent and how to instill DEI efforts into their everyday way of life.
And while the conversations and efforts are great, there is still a very long way to go.
These efforts and impact must be sustainable over a long period of time or they are for naught. Regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation and background, we all have a part to play.
For an industry that does a great job of talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, the fact of the matter is there was very little progress made.
As you see in the chart from the ANA, only 12% of CMO’s are non-white. That is unchanged from 2019.
Back in April of 2018, my friend Erik Requidan called me up one evening and said that he had an idea. The idea was to create a platform for diverse voices within advertising technology to tell their personal stories and journey. Erik came up with the idea as a response to the widely held feeling of exhaustion that comes from going to industry conferences and events and seeing only a few of “us” in the room and even less on stage.
Erik’s idea was fueled by his desire for change and I loved it. He asked me to join him, to which I responded with an emphatic yes! After a few brainstorming sessions, Erik’s idea turned into the Minority Report Podcast, which we launched in May 2018.
Our purposeful mission
Over the past 2½ years, the Minority Report Podcast has evolved into a platform that highlights people of color, women & LGBTQ+ communities within business, media and technology as we tap into their experience and subject matter expertise. To date, we have recorded 65+ episodes featuring a wide range of diverse individuals.
Our discussions dive into family background & upbringing, career journey, career advice, how they’ve dealt with discrimination, ideas for improving DEI, and insights into how they see the world through their unique lens.
Of course, we also delve into business models and the ecosystem in which their businesses thrive, and how their experience informs their leadership.
We know this podcast is having a positive impact on the industry. Here is a great text I received from a former guest of the podcast: ”[I] wanted to say thank you for what you guys did with the Minority Report Podcast. Whatever ppl and companies are trying to recognize ‘diversity and inclusion’, you guys were already at the forefront, shining a light on [DEI efforts] a couple years back.”
Erik and I like to say that we’ve created one of the largest collections of stories from diverse individuals in the world of business, media, and technology. But even more importantly, these stories live on as a catalogue for the next generation of leaders to reference.
Stories of people like us, their experiences, and their expertise were missing from our careers as Erik and I were coming up in the industry.
Our hope is that our content will fill that void by shining a light on diverse talent. There’s no shortage of diverse talent out there! Creating this content library is our way of contributing to change and turning an idea into a purposeful mission.
Advice for turning an idea into a purposeful mission
Again, regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation or background we all have a part to play. And there are many ways in which we can contribute.
If you have an idea and may be stuck on how to move forward, here is some advice for turning that idea into a purposeful mission.
Do not express regret about speaking up and taking a stand. One thing I always try to remember is to never start a conversation with “I’m sorry but..” Instead, stand firm and don’t apologize for sharing your perspective.
Follow your passion
There are many ways to impact DEI. When deciding how you will impact DEI, the key is to follow your passion. That passion will be what sustains you over a long period of time and help you maintain consistency. You could write a blog, starting a podcast, getting involved in company ERG programs, being a strong ally, assisting with company recruiting efforts, or anything else you can think of.
The important thing is that, whatever it is you do, you have a passion for it.
Stay focused on your mission
Again, there are many ways to impact DEI and it’s easy to try to get involved in too many things. But if you spread yourself too thin, you’ll burn out and you won’t be able to continue your work.
It’s much more impactful to stay focused on a couple of things and do them really well as opposed to spreading yourself too thin.
There is no one way to impact DEI. The most important thing you can do is get involved and stay involved. If you’ve got an idea, follow through. You might not be able to influence the number of non-white CMOs all by yourself, but any well-placed effort contributes to that change.
The more people involved in these initiatives, the better! No matter how small you might think your idea is.
A few key points to remember:
Only 12% of CMO’s are non-white, a number that’s unchanged from 2019.
There’s still a widely held feeling of exhaustion that comes from going to industry events and seeing only a few of “us” in the room—and even less on stage.
Share your story. Stories live on as a catalogue for the next generation of leaders to reference.
Be unapologetic as you speak out. Your work is needed and necessary.
Following your passion will help you stay motivated for the long run. There’s still a lot of work to be done and nothing will change overnight. Finding an idea you’re passionate about will help sustain you when a moment of emotion or the news cycle has moved on.
Keep your focus on one or two things instead of on every thing. There are a lot of great ideas out there, but you have limited time, resources, and energy. Choosing one or two projects you love will keep you from burning out.
Remember, all great change starts with an idea.
Kerel is the Senior Vice President of Global Marketing at LiveIntent. He currently leads the marketing team and works closely with sales, product, engineering and customer success to create awareness and generate leads for key products and features. Kerel has 20 years of digital media experience building and leading Advertising Operations, Account Management, Partnerships & Product Marketing teams.
Prior to LiveIntent, Kerel Cooper held positions at Advance Digital as the Senior Director Ad Platform Strategies and JupiterMedia as Director of Advertising Operations. Kerel is also the co-founder and co-host of Minority Report Podcast which highlights people of color, women & LGBTQ community within media, business and technology. Kerel has a Bachelor’s degree in Management Science/Marketing from Kean University, an MBA from Regis University, and Diversity and Inclusion Certification from Cornell University.
Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back in a week for our next guest post.
CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand and Uruguay.