The Learning Journey with Courageous Conversation Tools
October 7, 2020
Before joining Purpose, I spent nearly a decade in creative advertising, telling stories about brands and humans that were designed to elicit universal human truths and help us make sense of who we are as people (and sell some products along the way.)
The conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion within advertising is widespread, with brands banding together and agencies hosting cross-company seminars and working groups to change the way that the industry recruits and represents people in its work and its employee base.
As a White woman in a majority White industry, I always felt that these conversations were scratching the surface of the ways that advertising and communications can underpin the twin pillars of White supremacy and patriarchy, which have resulted in the continued structural inequities that we see today. We spoke about representation in front of the camera and behind it, and we spoke about recruitment processes to broaden our employee base; but we never spoke about how race might be impacting us as humans.
I always wondered if there was a way to bring a bit more humanity to this work – to bring more emotion and more empathy to each conversation, to challenge our own biases, express our own experiences and do the work, together.
Since joining Purpose in late 2019, I have seen firsthand the impacts that a strong racial equity focus within an organisation can have on the ways that teams think about developing the work. I have heard how using tools to encourage open conversation about race (taught expertly by the Pacific Educational Group and their Courageous Conversation training) can reduce the fear that employees have to name racial bias and discrimination. I have seen how having a racial equity lens in the creative brief forces strategists to pause and consider the impacts that race could have on an audience or a piece of creative work. And I have felt a stronger connection to my colleagues’ experiences as humans, not just as fellow employees, through open dialogue across geographies.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the world’s renewed focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, we wanted to share some of the tools we turn to most with our community, in the hopes that they inspire new ways of thinking, feeling, believing and acting in your organisations and your communities. We don’t have all of the answers and we are still learning; and we invite you to join us in that learning journey, to do the work – together.
After working with Courageous Conversation through training and partnership, our organization has turned to these frameworks again and again, both as a team and with our clients and partners on projects. These tools have helped us to ground, speak the same language, and make progress in some challenging but necessary conversations about where race intersects with progressive issue spaces. We hope you will learn from them, too.