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BrandLab's Fearless Conference 2021: Where Do We Go From Here?

Wow! What an incredible conference put on by our friends at The BrandLab. A sincere thank you to the amazing and thoughtful line up of speakers who gave their time and energy into helping us learn and unlearn.

What Is Your Why?

The first day centered on “me”the changes you can make personally. The second day focused on “we”creating workplaces and an industry where DEI is not only encouraged but effectively implemented. So, how do we take steps to knowing ourselves and recognizing the changes we can make? Start by asking yourself, what is your why? Once you acknowledge how you see the world, you recognize you carry inherent beliefs and you give yourself the permission to be aware of the things that have shaped you. Antonio Rivera, Director of Inclusion at InTouch Group, recommends doing the following mindfulness exercise to get closer to your why. You can do this alone or even with your team before starting a meeting.

1. Close your eyes.

2. Take 2 deep breaths.

3. Name one thing you are thankful for.

4. Name one reason why you are here.

Bias Is Inevitable

As Dr. Rodney D. Smith and Stephenie K. Smith of Sophic Solutions Group reminded us, bias is human and is as personal as your name. Destimagatize your bias by stating what it is the next time you’re in a meeting. By stating what your bias is, you’re acknowledging the outcome you favor based on the limited information you have. What if you don’t even know what your biases are? Take a bias test at ProjectImplicit.net to discover and assess your biases.

DEI Is The Brand Work

On day two our conversations were focused on “we.” How do “we” as a company take steps towards making our industry more equitable? It can start by redirecting perspectives. Is your creative missing a unique audience? Point this out and share how impactful this audience could be. Are you relying on the one Black colleague at the table to share their perspectives for all people of color? Take a look at your hiring practices and strive to hire a team that represents all walks of life, perspectives, and cultures. “DEI is not ‘other’ work, it is the brand work”, as Creative Director EJ McNulty of Wunderman Thompson shared.

Allyship Is Active, Not Passive

Where do we go from here? Before making brand promises on social media, examine how your company shows up. How do you show up externally and internally? Are your internal stakeholders invested in the idea that you strive to be a diverse, equitable and inclusive company? How are you showing up in your community? How do you show up in your industry?

Beyond making a statement, tell more stories. When telling stories, ask yourself, who is not in the room and who doesn’t have a voice? Being an ally is not a passive opportunity. It requires being an active learner and listener whose actions are measurable. How many books will you read? When are you putting in the work? Challenge your coworkers and check in with each other. “Hey, have you finished that book yet? Read that article? Done that thing?” It may sound simple, but the small steps add up to something greater. BrandLab said it best in their conference closing email; diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging is a journey, not a box to check.