Realizing the importance of “And”

I first learned about the 3% Conference a few years ago on social media through a friend who was attending. She was inspired and I am always down for more juice in my battery. As a female in the creative agency field for more than fifteen years, I’m partial to advancing both the conversation and actualization of equality.

I’ve long sat on the sidelines as a quiet champion of the 3% Movement. Aligning with their mission and goals, advocating for marginalized groups, and becoming more confident in my own voice because I knew there were others out there in the world who were speaking up more and fighting for my voice to be recognized. Knowing an organization like this existed made me feel better.

This year was different. Through IPG’s sponsorship, I had the opportunity to come off the sidelines and participate in the 3% Movement’s 8th annual conference through live streaming. To say I was excited is an understatement. I wanted to be completely present as much as the day would allow. So much that I asked my supportive colleagues to switch a few meetings so I could keep my brain in ‘sponge mode’. (Thanks peeps!) And present I was.

Content that inspires
From recognizing the formal impact the 3% Movement has on the advertising community, to its informal impact – being a platform for providing a main stage to normalize humanity and intersectionality in the business of advertising – their conference is a cornucopia for the type of wholeheartedness that lights a fire within the heart, soul, and brain. There was so much content to explore and motivate, but I left with one overarching idea – that the complexity of “and” is not only what is going to continue to push the demographically homogeneous advertising community. “And” will make advertising a place where both the work and the people thrive.

On the main stage on day two, Jordan Dinwiddie and Desiree Adaway – mother and daughter – spoke candidly about control, and the way you work within situations you can’t control. In Avivah Wittenberg-Cox’s discussion, she challenged bias as a binary construct and encouraged us all to be gender bilingual. And as Cindy Gallop closed things out, she challenged the idea of individual success as a zero-sum game, recognizing that lifting everyone up, raises us all.

So many speakers referenced the frustrating, tiring and often uphill climb that is tied to change in the advertising field. Yet, the 3% Movement Conference says yes, and. Yes, the climb is high…and we can lean on each other when we are too tired…and we can turn to one another for fellowship when we are frustrated…and we can share in the thirst of our desire for change as we walk up that hill together.

Continue pushing forward
When working within change it is often more murky, complex, and ambiguous before becoming clear. While clarity is always welcome, the stories shared at the conference pushed us to embrace the nonlinear paths of getting there and to keep climbing. Keep fighting for what we believe to be true, and just.

As I look at some of the professional challenges I’ve had being an intersectional other in homogeneous spaces, I am eternally grateful to those who gave me opportunities, support, and advice. However, I am most grateful for my own persistence and resilience. I have grown in embracing the complexities of the advertising industry and now see so much opportunity for us to simultaneously love this industry AND change it.