Forum on Workplace Inclusion

Top 5 Ad Agency Takeaways From The Forum on Workplace Inclusion

In March 2016 I was fortunate to participate on the panel Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Disability-inclusive Diversity – Advertising Through a Brand New Lens at the Forum on Workplace Inclusion. The conference convenes in Minneapolis each year to engage people, advance ideas and ignite change around the topics of diversity, inclusion and equity.

As a panelist, I hopefully was able to share knowledge and insights to those who attended the session, but this was also a great learning experience for me. If you didn’t attend the Forum and you’re in advertising, here are 5 ad agency takeaways from the conference that will help spur conversations and action towards greater diversity and inclusion of people with disabilities at your firm.

Disability is new to the diversity conversation.

Ad agencies have made significant strides towards diversity and inclusion in hiring staff and actors and talent, but including the disabled minority group within the diversity conversation is still relatively new. BBDO is a leader among agencies championing diversity and inclusion.

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JD Michaels EVP Director of Diversity & Creative Engineering, BBDO taking center stage.

People want to share knowledge about the disability community

Those in the know about greater inclusion of diversity and disability in advertising want to help. These are the insightful people who participated in the panel with me that are ready to continue conversations and start new ones with agencies and advertisers that have questions.

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Singleton Beato EVP Diversity & Inclusion Strategy and Talent Development, American Association of Advertising Agencies

John Lake Vice President and LGBT Segment Manager, Wells Fargo

Josh Loebner Author, Advertising & Disability Blog Director of Strategy for Designsensory ad agency and adjunct faculty, King University

Jd Michaels EVP Director of Diversity & Creative Engineering, BBDO

Tari Hartman Squire CEO, EIN SOF Communications, Inc.


Many clients already recognize people with disabilities.  

This was a conference where C-suite executives from big brands including General Motors, Intel, Starbucks, Target, Wells Fargo, Cargill, Land-O-Lakes and many others brought ideas and inspiration. Don’t let diversity and inclusion be one-sided. Bring bold ideas to your client and collaborate.

This ad from Wells Fargo, developed in collaboration with BBDO, shows just how powerful inclusive advertising can be. I’ll devote a separate post just to this ad and the backstory, but John Lake and JD Michaels walked through the process and creative development of this ad during the Forum and our session.

Get out of your ad conference comfort zone.

Too often there are a handful of conferences where agency creative directors and executives want to be and be seen. Now don’t get me wrong, many of these are great conferences, but for an industry that strives for creative differentiation many events are insular.  The Forum on Workplace Inclusion is a conference that would educate and inspire anyone in the ad business, no matter your role.

Diversity is taking center stage in the ad industry

The conference couldn’t have come at more appropriate time talk about what is happening in the industry and the conversations surrounding diversity. Nancy Hill, 4A’s president recently shared in opening remarks at the 4A’s Transformation conference “Real change has to start with you. It has to start at the top. That means if you are the CEO, you are the chief diversity officer,” she said. “You have to start the conversation.”

Share this post with a friend in the ad industry and let’s start the conversation!


One thought on “Top 5 Ad Agency Takeaways From The Forum on Workplace Inclusion

  1. Thanks Josh Loebner, This is another AWESOME blog — this one about the Forum on Workplace Inclusion. It’s an honor to present with you on advertising and disability, along with Singleton Beato/4As, Jd Michaels/BBDO and John Lake/Wells Fargo and looking forward to future collaborations.

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