20 Juli, 2017
J. Walter Thompson Brazil Creates a Racial Diversity Program
The agency's goal is to have, by 2020, approximately 20% of its staff positions in strategic areas occupied by Black talent.
This piece was written by Bárbara Sacchitiello and originally appeared on Meio&Mensagem on July 18.
"This is the most important project conducted by J. Walter Thompson in its 90-year history in Brazil." That's how Ricardo John, the agency's Chief Creative Officer in Brazil and South America, refers to 20/20, an initiative that aims to expand racial diversity in the company.
One day I stopped to closely observe the creative department and saw a monochromatic room, filled with only white people. It was a discomforting feeling and I thought it was due time to do something.”
The idea began just over one year ago, while observing his work environment. "One day I stopped to closely observe the creative department and saw a monochromatic room, filled with only white people. It was a discomforting feeling and I thought it was due time to do something," he recalls. After sharing this feeling with agency leaders, John began to coordinate a project whose goal was to, by 2020, have at least 20% of the strategic positions in the agency (in the creative, planning, account management, and media departments) occupied by Black professionals or professionals of African descent.
"We live at a time when the topic of diversity is buzzing, but it's no use talking about it if we don't do anything, in any way, to change this situation. We were very careful to internally study and develop this idea, since it involves a change of culture for all professionals and raising awareness about the importance of creating more diverse work environments," explains John.
In order to develop 20/20, JWT hired Rosenildo Ferreira, from the website Papo Reto, as a consultant on racial issues. Afterwards, agency leaders conducted a deep study on racial equality programs within companies like Bradesco, Carrefour, and Faculdade Zumbi dos Palmares. In January this year, the agency hired Empregue Afro, a human resources consulting company specializing in development and referral of black talents. Empregue Afro will provide support in the process to select and hire professionals for JWT Brazil.
In May this year, aiming to expand awareness of agency professionals about the project, the company promoted the Diversity Week. Specialists in various aspects associated with racial equality in the corporate environment participated in debates and talks at the agencies, such as Djamila Ribeiro, the master in philosophy, and Fernando Montenegro, researcher of Afro-consumption, .
Watch the video with the highlights of Diversity Week below.
The next phase for the 20/20 is to select professionals who will form the agency's team and integrate them into the internal culture. "Each department will have a mentor whose role will be to disseminate the importance of racial and cultural diversity in the industry, as well as to monitor and integrate new hires to the agency culture," adds John.