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‘We want people to feel included’: Verizon CMO Diego Scotti on the importance of equality in hiring

Digiday 09 Jun 2020 04:01
June 9, 2020 by Kristina Monllos

In advertising, making sure agencies and brands hire a much greater array of diverse talent has become a more urgent mandate in recent years. Some CMOs, like Verizon’s Diego Scotti, have used their power to push agencies to take a hard look at their hiring policies and be more inclusive. In 2017, Verizon launched Ad Fellows, a fellowship program at a variety of ad agencies, to help foster a more diverse talent.

Now, as protests against police brutality and racism across the nation continue, there’s a renewed focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives in advertising. Digiday spoke with Scotti about this year’s Ad Fellows program as well as managing through multiple crises. This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

The Ad Fellows initiative is to help those in the program land jobs but this year’s class graduated in the midst of coronavirus. Did that change things?

In the middle of the pandemic we had the graduation of the third class; 35 of them graduated. We decided to have the biggest graduation virtually that the world has ever seen — we had Pharrell come in — to celebrate. Then, there was a conversation with some [agency] partners who said, “Maybe, we can’t hire them now.” One of the goals of the program is that we need to 90% of the people that come through the program hired. [Some agencies had hiring freezes in place and didn’t want to change that.] I said to them that in a moment like this we need to step up and say, “We’re committed to this. We’re going to deliver it.” This is maybe a smaller example in the bigger scheme of things, but I believe that everything starts with what you can control.

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Diego ScottiVerizonScottiPharrellThe New York Times
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