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Insights From BIMA’s Cultural Credibility Breakfast Morning

by Tug Agency | 07.12.2022

At Tug we had the privilege of hosting BIMA’s breakfast briefing about cultural credibility. 

Advertising has the bigger responsibility to become more inclusive and diverse as we create ads that target a wider audience. Misrepresentation is a direct result of lack of representation within an agency. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the speakers at the event. 

Natalie Chindipha, DE&I Program Manager

Representation is so important. When I think of my younger self, I didn’t see any representation in film and media, and then again I found the same in politics. I wanted to change that, even in some small way. I have a background in politics. So I thought of change through voting. We all have power of how we change the world. I don’t want the stories we tell just to be white-centered.

But, when you come from an underrepresented community and are a part of DE&I you are essentially solving the problems that you are facing. That has an impact on your mental health in a way you don’t want. You are also reminded all the time that you belong only when it’s convenient.

When the company thinks of saving money the first thing that gets cut is The DE&I budget. It was the women who paved the way for me and it is all because of their motivation and support which has bought me here. 

DE&I is a new concept for a lot of companies. But the focus is now changing as has the conversation. 

Are companies sticking by their word and being held accountable? Or are they not since it’s no longer a trending topic as it was in 2020? We need to keep working towards DE&I and now is not the time to backout. 

If you embed DE&I into every part of your organisation, it becomes relevant to your employees. Using the voice of employees is important, such as employee resource groups and infinity groups as it enhances a sense of belonging for these employees and drives inclusion. 

People often talk about diversity as if you’re doing marginalised communities a favour when actually it’s diverse teams that do the organisation a favour. Having a wider perspective around the table can only be a benefit. 

You drive progress by being intentional. You have to be deliberate and aggressive about what you do and you have to treat diversity with the same energy and urgency as you do with your other business priorities. You have to be strategic and realistic. It doesn’t mean not having ambition, but being realistic about your expectations. Be data driven, we need to collect data so that we know what we’re solving for, where our strengths and challenges are. What gets measured gets done. 

Don’t build equally but equitably, understand the specific barriers. Don’t just focus on diversity but inclusion as well. It’s not always hard to hire people from different backgrounds but it can be challenging to keep them. 

Sophie Amono, Senior Communications Leader / Diversity + Inclusion Expert

All my life my parents told me ‘Life is going to be harder for you, because, you’re the other’ and I wanted to change that. I became a sort of rebel for the cause and realised you’ve got to lead from the front even though that is scary. You cannot concentrate on what’s not going well but rather come together and push the agenda forward. 

We shouldn’t have to start businesses because we feel we’re not welcome anywhere else, we should start businesses because we want to. 

It’s important for women to have confidence instilled in them and be strategic in their career path. Success may not just happen. 

And when society strips you of your confidence, you have to be intentional about putting that confidence back into yourself and be strategic in reaching the top. Living diversity can’t just be tokenistic and only in human resources, the whole company needs to live it and believe in it. 

We also need to tell the truth. We’re not honest about the problems that we face. We need to discuss how hard it is, how things aren’t working, the mental burden of DE&I work, and let go of the arrogance because we will never know it all, we will always be learning. It’s only by doing that work that we start to see it come through. 

Philip Osei-Hwere, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Eagle The Agency:

I moved from Ghana to the UK and found myself needing permission to be in spaces. This made me question why? People were confused by my confidence in taking up that space. This is what motivated me to start my own agency in 2004. I wanted to represent my community with authenticity. 

You have to stay to pave way for others to become a pioneer. 

You stay to make an impact, and to see decisions being made about your community that don’t reflect you, it’s frustrating. We need to diversify to grow. We need to bring forward people from different groups to empower our progress. 

We are not interested in just seeing black faces portrayed in a very stereotypical way on TV. Being a creative and seeing decisions being made about your community don’t reflect you. It’s frustrating. Consumers are interested in showing special moments that have an impact. Communities want to feel touched during their special moments. For example: Showing an Asian family enjoying a nice Diwali dinner will have a better impact. 

We need to have relations to the communities we came from to better influence the change we want to see. First think of the impact, and then think how you make it. 

Once we were working on an ad campaign and we had people from different countries in Africa. And one of them suggested we use a red headscarf on the lady to make the advertisement more visually appealing. But suddenly it occurred to me that in Ghana you only wear a red headscarf to a funeral. There are many cultural dimensions within the African continent and in order to capture them all, you must have a diverse and inclusive team. This is how you avoid a crisis and plan ahead.

There needs to be a strong purpose to have inclusion. It shouldn’t be just to tick a box. It all starts off internally, you need to reflect in the hiring process and rethink older structures.