AdNews, in partnership with the MFA (Media Federation of Australia), presents a series of articles from members of the MFA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council. The body promotes the MFA’s ambition to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive industry:

Asier Carazo, Strategy Director, Atomic 212° Melbourne

“In my case, being the minority has been a blessing but this has only been possible because I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded personally and professionally by people who saw value in being different.”

What motivates you to advocate in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion?

Throughout my entire life I’ve always been the minority in different areas or contexts. From a personal perspective, I’m a gay man, my mother tongue is Basque – one of Europe’s oldest aboriginal languages – and my cultural background has always been different to the people I have met along the way. The Basque Country is a tiny but very unique region in Northern Spain.

Add to that the fact that I’ve lived away from home since I finished high school. Despite these differences, I’ve always found joy in being the minority because I’ve tried to adopt an external point of view on things, I’ve listened and learned from others.

In my case, being the minority has been a blessing but this has only been possible because I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded personally and professionally by people who saw value in being different.

The reality is that not every environment is inclusive or diverse and while I think Australia is doing better than some other countries I’ve worked in, there’s room for improvement. The key driver for me to join MFA’s DE&I Advisory Council was the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas with the industry’s most diverse and interesting group and to learn from their experiences and perspectives.

Since our first meeting, I realised I was very lucky to be part of such an engaging group. My main motivation today is the contribution to driving positive change across all levels, from the small things we do every day at work to the largest industry-wide initiatives around DE&I.

How would greater diversity and inclusion impact our industry?

Channeling our efforts into the diversity and inclusivity of our industry will profoundly shape and encourage open dialogue, as well as exploring outcome-based solutions. And that’s just what we can see on the surface of this project.

For me, the most interesting component is the evolution of the industry. For instance, by turning our industry into a safe and inclusive space for everyone, we will be able to attract talent from all levels, skillsets and diverse professional backgrounds, overall enhancing the creativity and credibility.

Our responsibility as part of this advisory group is to inspire future generations and make them feel empowered by working at a media agency, framing it as a place where they can learn from others, be themselves and thrive. From my conversations with marketing and communications students, creative agencies seem to have a bigger appeal due to the ‘sexier’ output of the work. Media agencies, via the MFA DE&I Advisory Board, now have an opportunity to shorten that appeal gap by leading the charge in terms of diversity, equality and inclusion and driving positive change for the industry at large.

All in all, I believe having greater diversity and inclusion in our industry will lead to higher retention rates, making media agencies a space where junior and senior talent are less transient.

What should our priorities be as an industry in the area of DE&I?

There are three key areas where we should focus our attention.

Firstly, we need to take the theory into practice. Most agencies have training programs, frameworks and processes that define DE&I guidelines, but I feel we need to provide everyday tools to everyone in the industry to be generally more inclusive – from the language we use to our behaviour in the agency environment. (Education is also one of the key pillars we should focus on.)

I believe most of us aren’t fully aware of our levels of unconscious bias when it comes to diversity, equality and inclusion. As an advisory group, we need to serve as a wake-up call for everyone to realise that there’s still a lot of work to do and that it takes each one of us to drive positive behaviour change.

Last but not least, recruitment best practices should also be among our priorities. As managers, we are responsible for the people that enter this industry and in some way, it’s up to us to hire with a diversity mindset. If we hire people like us, we won’t really foster a diverse or inclusive environment.

The big question is, how do we educate industry leaders and managers on how to feel comfortable in hiring people that are totally different from us?

Article originally published on Mumbrella.