Improving Diversity & Inclusion in Marketing

Building Brands Ep 14 Keni Thacker Improving Diversity & Inclusion In Marketing

Keni Thacker, Founder of 100 Roses From Concrete talks about how advertising ended up where it is today with a lack of representation in marketing departments and ad creative and how the growing diversity in audiences is demanding a shift towards more inclusive advertising. He also touches on how to build more diversity within a company and the wins that can be realized for everyone by making positive change.

Episode Links
Find Keni on LinkedIn
Visit 100 Roses From Concrete Online

Episode Transcript
Tim
Welcome building brands listeners. For our 14th episode, I’m joined by Keni Thacker, founder of 100 roses from concrete. 100 roses from concrete is a digital platform where men of color in the advertising industry can connect, collaborate and grow together. This episode is a bit different as we focus on diversity and inclusion for the advertising and marketing industry in general, which of course still applies to the building industry. Keni talks about how advertising ended up where it is today with the lack of representation in marketing departments and ad creative and how the growing diversity and audiences is demanding a shift towards a more inclusive advertising. He also touches on how to build more diversity within a company and the wins that can be realized for everyone by making positive change. Enjoy the episode.

Tim
If you’re an owner and marketer in the building materials, manufacturing, distribution or contracting spaces, looking to set up your brand for success now and in the future. This is the podcast for you. on this show we talk about brand and market strategies used in the real world that grow companies and truly connect with consumer audiences. So sit back, listen in and let’s get to it. All right, Kenny Thacker, thanks for joining me. This is Keni is from the He’s the founder of 100 roses from concrete and program creator of the growth initiative. Thanks for coming on to talk about this very important topic of diversity and inclusion in advertising marketing. And, you know, we deal with this in the building materials industry as an older industry. This is a really good topic to start to bring some more information into my listeners and just the industry in general. Mm hmm.

Keni
Yeah, man. It’s, it’s a pleasure to be here. Always good to connect with you, Tim. I can’t say we’re new friends because it’s been definitely like 910 months, maybe close to a year or going almost to a year I guess in October, close to a year. Whatever. But it was, you know, a great meeting you and the rest of the team up in Buffalo a couple months ago, tore it down. It was a good time talking to the good folks about diversity, culture and inclusion. And I think the name of the presentation was what is culture have to do with it? And then my answer was everything. Absolutely everything. You can’t have diversity and inclusion without culture. And as a lot of people know, maybe they don’t know maybe because they don’t see it or whatever the case may be. But, you know, toxic culture leads to poor diversity and inclusion. So that was a great conversation that I had with you and another 40 some odd plus people out there in Buffalo.

Tim
Yeah, we were doing a lot of great things with ATF trying to bring diversity into our industry locally here. And I’m hoping that our conversation today will do the same thing for the building industry too. So yeah, I’m not gonna talk about buffalo wings. Don’t worry about it,

Keni
because you guys schooled me on buffalo.

Tim
Before we get into some of the meat and potatoes of this, why don’t you give people a little bit of background of who you are, where you came from and how you got into the advertising industry and then we can dive into how you got involved with 100 roses. Yeah, man. So, I mean, I’m, I’m gonna try to keep my origin story as short as possible short and sweet. So not all Marvel movies.

Keni
No it’d be more than 12. Actually, it’s pretty short and sweet because it’s only like you know, a trilogy it’s not it’s not 12 There you go. But so it’s like Iron Man One, two and three. But yeah, I mean, I came through kind of stumbled into the industry to be totally honest with you. I don’t have this like kind of magical story on I met someone and they they got me hip to advertising. I was like, Oh my god, this is awesome. Let me do this. No, stumbled into Ogilvy literally, as a freelancer for eyepatch productions did some event technology consultation for them at the time and that was probably 2004 2005 when 2006 kind of rolled around, I was still a freelancer over there. And I got a call from an agency called JW. T they would they would they wanted to interview me whatever the case may be. And I was like, Yeah, sure. They wanted to interview me for the same role that I was a freelancer for Ogilvy took, took the interview, blew it out the water, did another interview, blew it out the water and pretty much got the job. Little did I know JW T was just like, oh, we’ll be just a little bit older, or the oldest at the time agency. So got the Java AWT, in the ven technology department. Then after like five years, I kind of had an awakening per se because I didn’t even know what diversity inclusion was. I just kind of thought that, you know, corporate America is just full of white folks. And that’s what it is. And then There’s nothing I can do to change that. So I just accepted it for those first five years and also due to the fact that I graduated from the Sean Puffy Combs themed debt school in the 90s of just get that money don’t really care about who’s around you. That was pretty much my mission when I got out of college because like that’s what I was just influenced by especially my music was just get money, get money, get money. That’s it. Don’t worry about family Don’t worry about starting a family just get money get money, get get money, get money. So like when all of my friends were getting married. I was still on my get money train. So that was my first five years into JW t between 2006 and 2011. Even though I did help out on some diversity and inclusion, like initiatives, but I was just helping out I was just like an extra hand or I was maybe the talent but nothing intense right. So nothing intense like My presentation that I gave to you guys a couple months ago. So the person that was leading all these diversity inclusion initiatives, she left the company. And when she left the company, she never really passed on the baton of the diversity and inclusion initiatives. So me and a friend of mine were at an industry event here in the city. And we were just talking, we were like a, like, Who’s going to take over because Miss x kind of didn’t pass the baton to anybody. And we looked at each other. We were like, why don’t we just take it over? But let’s do it differently. Let’s do it in a way. That’s that’s educational, inspirational, inclusive, fun, a little sexy, and then wrap that in a in a retention and recruiting bow. So all of these things, basically to get people engaged into great talent, and things of that nature. We did our first project it was for like Black History Month. But right before we launched that first project, my friend said a, I got a job at another agency. So it was kind of up to me to say, well, do I let this baton fall? Or do I run with it? And Tim, I’ve been running with it for the last nine years. I’ve created different content platforms, programs, all centered around diversity and inclusion. During the time that I was at that agency and the left that agency let I let the funny thing about this about actually there’s a new part to this story, and it’s funny that I’m talking to you about it is because I was planning on leaving that agency last year. And on my way home from from hanging out with you guys. I got a job offer on my layover. It was a job that I interviewed for early early last year and we were just kind of going back and forth all year long. But I got the job offer coming back from above.

Tim
Buffalo is a good luck charm, except for in Super Bowls and Stanley Cups.

Keni
Fo show. So I guess that was October, left advertising in October did some time and PR for about seven months. I was um, the program partnerships manager for a PR agency here, a CMT agency here in New York for a little while did that kind of wrapped up with them around the time COVID hit. And then I was like, you know, I got some free time on my hand before I left that agency. And so, between the time that I left the ad agency I was with when I saw you guys, I also created 100 rows from concrete. Now why did I create 100 rows from concrete? Well, because I was tired of always feeling like the only person of color in the room especially as a man only only man of color in the room. So I wanted to create an organization full of people that always feel like they’re the elephant in the room. So I basically created 100 rows and columns. Concrete as a place for men of color in advertising, marketing, media and PR. So it’s a place where they can connect, collaborate and grow. Simple as that. And we’ll do some projects here and there. That was pretty much what it was going to be peer to peer mentorship meetups. Unfortunately, there’s a killer virus out right now. So we can eat up and just like mentor each other, talk to each other, bring each other up. If anyone knows about a job, tell that other guy and things of that nature. That was it. We just passed 120 members across the US. So needless to say, that’s the story. I’m sticking to it. It’s been a busy time since the last time I saw you.

Tim
Yeah, and those are all great initiatives for helping especially now. I mean, really, the Black Lives Matter movement has started to put this it was already pretty in front of people’s faces, but now everyone is being forced to take it much more seriously, which is a good thing. They know you’ve got everything from corporate culture policy is changing. Actual brand names changing, sports is changing, design and mascot representation is changing. How do you think it this whole thing is going to change? The conversation in advertising in general? Like, I mean, there’s there’s clearly a lack of public representation and internal representation like, Where do you think this is going to go?

Keni
Honestly, I hope it goes in the positive, right. But advertising has been so complicit over longer than both you and I have been alive, right? They’ve just been complicit with it. Advertising controls the narrative on how people are perceived, not just black people, but people in general. And most of the times they missed the mark, right? Because you have a bunch of people in the same room that think the same that look the same that grew up the same, and the perspectives aren’t really that different, right. And that’s where they missed the mark. So I hope that this does feel different this time, because this is not the first time black and brown bodies are dropping, right? This is the first time and, and it’s not gonna be the last time. So if this is that true awakening moment, then there needs to be systems in place to make sure that this is sustainable and not just like a fad, right? Because now everybody wants to put out a statement somehow another all these companies have money to donate to Black Lives Matter and to legal funds and NAACP. I was working on Black Lives Matter projects three years ago. So they’re not something new. Right? But how people are just guide you know, it’s I don’t know if it’s a wave or it’s a it’s a or it’s a phase or it’s a trend, you know, all words meaning the exact same thing, but like I don’t want it to be that I want something that’s going to be sustainable. And there should be no end goal in sight or finish line. It should just be, we want to make change, we want to make change that’s going to last. And this is just how we operate period. Moving forward, we understand that we are to blame for a lot of the problems within the industry. We have kind of worked on these old archaic models that have been around for literally decades, and they have gotten rich off of those bad models. And now is the time to do what’s right. Because the thing is this and I tell people this all the time, especially different organizations that I’m that I thought I consult with because now I have a little consultancy now, but I tell them I’m like look, diversity, good diversity, culture, fair, fair pay equity, and inclusion. It just leads to better innovation, better productivity, better creativity. Better profitability, right? Because everybody make money and better humility. At the end of the day, those five things do. Like if they commit to it, that’s what they’ll get. And those are all positive gains, the last time I checked, right, yeah, all positive change. So the work gets better people get paid what they’re worth, regardless of their, you know, sex, gender, ethnic background, you know, like, let’s just make, let’s just make it right. Because at the end of the day, that can be nothing but W’s. If we do it right. Now, look, because it’s been done wrong for a long time. You and I both have seen agencies come and go, come and go. But if you look at the genetic makeup of those agencies that came in when majority of them are like over 90%, white, and it’s not necessarily a problem with white people, but it’s a matter of bringing other voices and minds and bodies to the room and even able bodied Enos to the room to look at These creative problems that we’re having for our clients differently. That’s it dude. Um, you know, I’m not no rocket scientist. I mean, if I was I tell you, but like, the problem is so easy to fix. But it’s been mucked up with underfunding and being undervalued, right? Because then people say, Oh, it’s just a diversity talk, oh, it’s going to be the same thing. They’re going to talk about, oh, the lack of people of color. Oh, you know, the lack of women in leadership roles, the lack of people of color in leadership roles. Oh,

Tim
There’s a reason why that conversation is always the same.

Keni
Because it’s not changing.

Tim
It’s not changeing.

Keni
It’s not changing. So that’s why, you know, when I started this answer, saying, I hope it’s going it’s going to go in a positive direction, because now all of a sudden it matters. And that’s the part as as an African American as a black man, which actually hurts right? Because Because it’s like so it takes the dropping of black bodies for it to matter now, like we’ve been telling you this, right? But now since the country is literally on fire, from a mortality rate from a policing rate from an economy rate, now all of a sudden, this matters. So that’s why I’m very and you know, you and I, you know, follow each other on Twitter. That’s why I’m quick to say, really, you have millions of dollars for this. Now, we’ve been talking about diversity issues in the advertising industry, at least I have for the last nine years. So now all of a sudden you have money for this,

Tim
but in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle,

Keni
in the middle of a pandemic, who would have thought, you know, just the magical money fairy came out to play. But literally, Tim, a year ago, I was dancing for my dinner, to try to get funding for DNI projects. But now all of a sudden, like there’s just millions, this millions being thrown at it. So that’s why I’m like, you know, I hope these people are, are being real and honest and true and sympathetic and empathetic about this. And they’re really gonna commit to this because if they don’t like like Dave Chappelle said in eight 846 it’s gonna be the wrath of God, dude. It’s gonna be bad. All these little fluffy statements and everything like that, and now Black Lives Matter and then it will be the wrath. And they don’t want that hopefully.

Tim
Let’s let’s talk about the statements because everyone is making statements and they are committing dollars now. The statements are nice. What we can talk about, which would be a nice way to get this conversation going in an actual direction is how to actually follow up on those statements. And then, you know, the other thing is the money is good to the money is going to organizations that are already doing this, there is still responsibility for To do this on their own, and maybe even use some of that money in their own organizations to improve this matter. So, let’s let’s start with the basics. How, how did we get to the point where from an advertising perspective, because we’re on the Marketing Podcast, where brands have become underrepresented, and and lack of diversity, you talked about this, the history, the whole history, we have the advertising, let’s build that up into how society is starting to change to conflict with that. Yeah.

Keni
Well, well, the history is this is that they got comfortable. I mean, they’ve been comfortable, right? They just been comfortable. And the model is old. And it was kind of just been passed down, year by year by year by year by year by years. And like, basically, it’s been passed down to a point that it’s like, let’s play it safe. So let’s keep going to the same pond to get the same kind of fish because this just works for us. But the thing is, there’s no variety in The in the kind of fish that they’re getting. So the few fish that are different, they really don’t develop, to have them grow and be better. So that’s why you see very few people of color on the C suite level, and even moving all the way down. Like it’s easy to fish and get like the guppies and everything like that and get them all in a little bag and then take them home and everything like that. But if you’re not developing the talent of color in particular that you have, the model stays the same, the talent of color gets frustrated, and then they leave.

Tim
And you have no representation at the higher level. Not Not, not at the board level. Yeah, just speaking generally about this if you the older generation is at the board level, and if you’re waiting for the younger generation to become old to put them at the board level, you have a 40 year delay in taking action, so there’s going to have to be some level of uncomfort to take younger, promising diverse professionals. and move them into leadership roles, sea level roles, and then even on board roles, or at least advisory board board roles, because you can’t wait for two years, because we had 40 years we wasted it. And here we are, and we’re in the same leadership role. So I just from a generic standpoint, that that 40 year gap is concerning. And that’s one actionable thing that developing people like you’re talking about could speed that process. Yeah.

Keni
Yeah. I mean, developing people is just so important. And in the end, you know, some people may be like, Oh, well, I just gotta be everybody, because it needs to be everybody. But the thing is, sometimes it’s just not fair. That that’s because I’ve seen people developed, but and I’ve also seen people not developed. And most of the time when I see people being developed, they’re just not the employees of color. And that’s the part that sucks. I mean, I’ve seen interns go from interns all the way to account directors, literally, bro. Like, I’ve seen them grow up. In front of my eyes, you know, I’m just like, wow, I remember five summers ago, this kid was an intern. Now he’s an account director. Wow. Must be nice. You know, must must be nice. Just this passing everyone along the way. And, you know, not that I was mad at his success, but I was like, I just know a lot of other people that were probably the same age as him, or if not older, that still haven’t been made account directors because they haven’t been developed. But, you know, I feel like when it comes to development, sometimes organizations pick and choose who they want, and also who they want to be client facing. One thing that I definitely talked about when I was up there visiting you and the gang, I was like, clients now are requesting diversity, but they’ve been requesting the diversity part, right. So even the clients have been talking about this for a long time, but agencies are kind of like, huh, yeah, we’re working on it. We’re working on it. But now since the world is on fire, clients are really digging their heels in. But like, right this the last time I’m telling you fix this, or we’re out period. I’m not here to say that I know of any agencies that are doing it superbly, right? I mean, IPG dropped their numbers, and they’re kind of scary. When you look at the going from the top brass all the way down, you’re just like, Wow, those are low, high numbers for our Caucasian counterparts. All those numbers are very high, you know, Board of Directors, CEOs, CEOs, all the C titles, right? Lots, but everyone else, they kind of all hit the bottom part of that chart, and it’s just like, wow, I appreciate the transparency because I know that’s one thing I spoke about. When I when I came up there. I was like, you know, there’s not A lot of transparency. Now all the transparency is out there for some of these organizations, not all, but some of these organizations, their transparency is out there. I respect it. But I want to know what they’re going to do now. Yeah, because like, if I grit I get it that it takes a lot of heart and courage to put your diversity numbers out there, even if your organization is 63% white or 75%. White, like, and you’re saying, Yeah, we we haven’t gotten this right. I get it. But I want to see where you are in June 2021. Like, are you still at that 75% Caucasian staff makeup, or because even if you went down to 74% White, I’d be like, you’re doing something? It’s working. Let’s try to drop it by another 2% by 2022. I’m not asking for much But I think there needs to be systems and mandates and accountability and consequences for leaders that don’t hold up their end of the bargain on the diversity front. That’s the only way it’s going to work. If because when they realize that it messes around with their bonus son, then they’ll be like, I better get a bonus you know, but but in there, it within that accountability, as I said before, like that development part is so so crucial and they need to be held responsible because if not, then all these all these donations and etc, etc. Like they kind of fall flat at the end of the day, right? They fall flat and the messages everyone kind of moves on. And then it’s like, Okay, well, we had that moment. And then it’s gone. And it and I always say like it’s one thing to be about the moment but it needs to be about The movement, like we always need to be progressing, we always need to, we need, we always need to evolve, right? So that’s so so very important. And, you know, the sooner these bigwig big pocket cats, you know, kind of realize that there will be better. But honestly, like you said, all this money that somehow came out of some, I don’t know where it came from during a pandemic, is just like, Wow, so you got money now. But still, your pay equity is super off, but somehow you have money to pay the NAACP and BLM not that they don’t deserve the money. But yeah, but then how about some of that money goes to development programs for your internal people. One thing I tell organizations when I’m consulting, I’m like, Look, I get it you want to partner with different organizations outside but let’s work on internal First, let’s let’s work let’s let’s get our house in order. Before we go outside. You know, you have to Love yourself before you love anybody else. That’s just, that’s just what mama taught us, you know. So, you know, they got to do better, they got to do better, they got to know better to be better. At the end of the day,

Tim
You talked about how you can rack up a lot of W’s doing this room. And I think getting into how we get those W’s is going to be important. So let’s, let’s say that someone is taking the next steps. They made the statement. They’re leaning on their brand values to say like this is something that needs to be important to us because we’re this type of company. We’re doing these things. We’re starting to bring in more diverse full time employees, part time employees, interns and developing programs. Why is doing this going to result in those wins that you mentioned before? I mean, there is it’s plain as day data driven can tell you that almost half of the country is diverse and not just simply your your vanilla Caucasian, American anymore. So let’s connect that dots between what America looks like and what these initiatives can actually do for companies, whether they’re a marketing company, or a marketing department in one of these manufacturing companies, or just a company in general, realizing that this is important?

Keni
Well, it the dots are pretty easy to connect. It’s because when you have and like you said, the data is like pretty much everywhere, when you have people that are different. The the problems that at least on the advertising and the problems that we tackle, in creating creative solutions for these brands, we just, it just makes it almost I’m not gonna say that makes the problems easier to solve. But it gives us alternatives, right? It gives us alternatives rather than just one way. Because when we look at who’s buying these products, and we look like and we look at what America looks like, everyone should be a part of that process. Therefore, we don’t trip over a shoe laces like all these brands have done. When creating illusions are trying to create solutions for Pepsi for Gucci, or Prada, whatever the case may be. Because it’s one thing for us to develop our people, right and move them into positions of power and positions of leadership. But by doing that, we have to give them a voice that can be heard, and empowered, as well. So if it’s me, you and an Indian sister and a white sister and a disabled, black dude, whatever the case may be, we’re all at the table. Everyone has a voice. And we can debate till we’re tired in the face, and just come to some type of consensus on how to push whatever idea or creative solution forward. I think that’s where the true value of diversity comes from, is bringing people that are not necessarily all the same people that are not all going to agree with each other all the time, but people that are going to bring perspective to the work And the way the world is moving now, especially in the climate of just the way at least America, I can’t speak on Europe because I’m not there. But the way the world is working now, we really need to think about how do we deliver messaging or talk to our different brands and clients about, look, it’s been profit over people for a long time. We need to make it people over profit. Because these are the people that are buying your, whatever your services, our goods are staying in your hotel, or driving your cars, or were in your shoes. Like, if we need to think about that we need to put the people first because somewhere in getting rich and people buying three or four houses and their cuca Ruse and whatever else the case may be, like they forgot that people matter. And if we’ve learned anything, regardless if it’s, you know, things that are happening In the streets or to this pandemic, is that people matter at the end of day, human life, decency. It matters, man. So hopefully, you know, it sticks this time.

Tim
So you don’t just want to have someone holding a can of soda up to a line of police to try and bring the world together.

Keni
I mean, if I drink soda often, you know, but I mean, the thing is, in that scenario, maybe there was a person of color in that room, right? But were they empowered enough to say anything to make a difference?

Tim
Fair.

Keni
Right? Because because they’re, they’re easily could have been there could I mean, that person could have been a creative director, but there’s someone obviously over their head, right. And they could have been like, Nah, man, it’s gonna be cool. She’s so hot. You know, we’re all gonna get to meet her. And, you know, they probably sold it like Get we get to meet her and all this cool stuff. It’s gonna be awesome. And as you know, there’s so many approval layers when it comes to making a spot, and it’s just like, not one person or who knows. But it got a green light the whole way. Pretty much. And if it didn’t, that person wasn’t listened to. And then it was out how long was it? How long was it up? Like, five minutes? Yeah, you know, and but that’s not the first brand to do some stupid. My whole thing is how many more times does that have to happen? Because it keeps happening, right? It’s not the first example we between you and me. We could give 30 examples right now if we had the time on this podcast, but we don’t. But just due to the fact that between you and I we could name 30 that’s a problem. So as Every as this conversation seems to be the thing that talk out of town now and everything like that, even though we know this is not a new conversation, I really hope that it sticks this time. Because if it does stick, I think the way we’re going to see work and the way work is going to be made, and the stuff put out is going to be so dope and it’s going to be fun. And it’s it’s going to it’s going to be everything that we hope America can be right where I mean granted, we’re not going to get along all the time. But at least we can have that little slice of Americana. That is beautiful and and regardless of what you look like what regardless of what you sound like gods or where you come from, regardless of who you love, or who you pray to. And we can just like live in that ray of sunshine.

Tim
Yeah, right now, with advertising taking so long to catch up in marketing taking so long Catch up, if we all spend this time putting together personas, right? And I mean, I’m, we might even still be guilty of this too, you go out and you look for the stock photos. And what do you get, you get the the white, middle aged male, the white single mother, the white college student, the white elderly person. And sometimes when you know and if you go deep enough, sometimes you are actually calling out, you know what background these people are in the personas to but if you’re not going to go deep enough to actually realize that 40% of the country represents some of these people, then your advertising is going to miss the mark for 40% of the people in this country. If you just boil it down to that, who would want their advertising to Miss 40% of their audiences. And then take that one step further. If you do miss that, and you are over representing the what is still currently the majority white population you’re in unconsciously conditioning everyone to think that that’s the norm to and that sort of perpetuates the issue. You know, we’re doing it, some people might be doing it on purpose, but a lot of us are doing it unintentionally and not realizing that that is just conditioning us over and over and over again. So when we do see a brand, take a what is now still considered, I would say slightly risky, or maybe not risky, just a different approach and put multiple representations of people in front of you. You’re like, oh, that stands out, because I don’t see that often enough. And I think that that’s sort of the shift. Where are we going to actually do it this time? Are we just going to say that it’s important, and then forget about it and fall back into our unconscious? repetition that we’ve been in for the last 60 to 300 years that advertising has been around?

Keni
Yeah, I mean, dude, it’s, I just read a statistic the other day 10% of ads have people of color. Like it’s ridiculous, but most agencies have less than 5% people of color in their agencies. So it’s just like wow, What are we thinking? What are we thinking? Well, we’re not thinking, that’s the problem. So like, it just it just it just needs to it just needs to get better. But that goes to everything that we’re kind of talking about here and repairing this toxic culture that the industry has created over decades and centuries and things of that nature to just get better because one thing I remember telling you when the gang when I was up there, I was like, the one thing we cannot control this time. We just can’t. And by 2030, white folks are going to be the minority, they will be 49% of the population. I know 49 sounds like a big number and everything like that, because it actually is a big number, because that 51% still has to be split amongst all the different ethnicities. So even if you did, you know, white people, versus versus black people White people versus Latinx, they’ll still be more white people at the end of day. So this is not about like, I always always like say this because this is not about wiping out anybody. This isn’t this is not what that’s about. This is about making room at the table, on all levels, Jr. All the way up to the board. Things of that nature is just making room. That’s it. It’s, that’s all it is. But one thing a good friend of mine said last night. During one of my sessions with my young people, she was like, the problem is no one wants to relinquish the power. That’s where the problem lies. And that’s why it’s stayed around for so very long. No one wants to relinquish the power. So like today, when I see multiple heads of holding companies, all white Having a panel talking about what they’re going to do. There’s not one person of color on that panel yet they care somehow about black lives. But that panel goes to show that they’ve been eating like fat cats for decades getting getting it going from seat to seat getting a higher higher, but they never really thought about like, wow, like, it’s like that this that is like that lyric Jay Z said, you know, the higher I get the less black faces I see something like that. I’m paraphrasing, right, but like, because Jay Z’s close to billionaire status now or is a billionaire already. But you know, he said, you know, the higher I get, the less face dark faces I see the higher higher I get, and it’s the truth. But why can’t there be enough space that there’s more than one black billionaire or one more, one more than one black Latin x, you know billionaire or more than one or You know, part owner of a football team, whatever the case may be, because you know what these old dudes have locked that club, they locked that door. And basically have not really let anybody in. Because they know that they can protect each other’s interests and also go back going back to what I said just a second ago. That’s how you protect the power. So, you know, either they wise up is like change or die right now, then, that’s kind of like, that’s kind of like the motto right now. Like, they need to think very closely at the model that they’ve created because it’s created such that it’s created such a divide, that they they’ve kind of forgot that it that it made and, you know, people have suffered and in the wake of it.

Tim
And that goes to your one of your first points about the leadership and the sea levels. Well, your story is great because it shouldn’t have to be this way. You’re doing you in your first job, you saw an opportunity to get involved and start to make a difference. That is a groundswell. This doesn’t have to be a groundswell. It can be leadership, stepping in and helping those that are interested from the ground swell to facilitate this change, and work together on that. And I think that’s important because, like you say, right now, and we’ve been talking about for the last half hour, a lot of the people in these positions are white. And that is just how it is right now. And in order for us to start changing, that they have to be part of the solution. They can’t just let the people beneath them try and figure it out on their own and fight for it.

Keni
Yeah, 100% also, they have to be a part of solution because they created this problem. Due to the fact that this has lasted so long, is what makes it so much harder, because it’s like turning an ocean liner, right? Like Like a can of Carnival Cruise. It’s not like turning like a sexy speedboat in the in the Miami port is not There’s not like one of those, like, we’re talking like Norwegian Cruise, where it takes like 45 minutes for it to turn and like get into the dock. Like, that’s how huge this problem has gotten. Because people have just, they just let it grow, you know, and the disparity grows. So will the change take time? Yes, it will. Is it possible? Yes. Will we need to be patient? Yes. Are people tired of being patient? Yes. But with the proper resources, it can all work itself out. But it takes accountability and consequences. And sad to say, we have to incentivize it, or people won’t take it seriously.

Tim
Yeah. And those are, you know, some of the things you talked about were the internship programs, supporting development programs, making sure you’re doing Put putting people up through the leadership ranks diverse representation in the advertising itself, which if you have the right team will bring itself out in the discussions. And you know, they can still support the organizations they want. But a lot of internal work too, because that’s really where the big change happens in supporting this group of people in America that have been left out of a lot of these opportunities in the last hundred years.

Keni
Man, it’s been a while, I mean, because, you know, and I know that our advertising influences the perception of people. Right? So when you have 10% of most of most ads, and whether it’s primetime, whatever the case may be, only have a very small portion of people of color, then everything we’re basically perceived perceiving is through a white lens. And we don’t really relate to that. And the part that marketers and it’s all in the data The part that I think marketers forget is the power of the black dollar, the power of the Latin next dollar. Like, bro, it’s 1.3 trillion and growing.

Tim
And growing, growing is a very key word there too.

Keni
1.3 trillion, right? But somehow another week it these agencies can’t staff their people with over 5% black folks or or 7% Latin x folk 8% Asian folks 1% maybe point 5% Native American, most likely no one with disabilities. So it’s just like, wow, but they spend so much money, even people that are disabled spend close to a billion dollars a year. So it’s just like, either realize this and respect it because they have the money. And the thing about all these groups that I’m mentioning is that there are faithful as hell to brands, right. They are faithful. But why don’t why don’t the brands show any faith in them?

Tim
Well, we’ll find out which ones. They’ll be the ones that stick around. Yeah. So let’s, let’s put a, let’s put a, you kind of touched on this a little bit. Let’s put a futuristic bow on this one does diverse advertising look like in 10 years or so? You mentioned the 2030 goal.

Keni
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go. Um, I mean, in 2030, I hope these these, these statistics and percentages that I gave give to you are different. I don’t expect them to be what the country is. So I don’t don’t think that I’m sitting here. And I’m going to tell you that by 2030, agencies are going to be 51% people of color, and 49% white folks. I know that’s not the case. Everybody knows that’s not the case. But if there’s a way to double, even just triple the percentages that we have now. We’ll be better off and those gains, and we’ll all have the W’s to show for it. But it takes to committing to it. At the end of the day, I mean, the commitment part is big. And, and maybe the solution is shifting out some of these old folks. I mean, I’m not, I’m not trying to be, I’m not trying to be ages here. But like, the, the the guard is, is the same guard from like, or at least the the mentality of the guard, right, is something way old. And I think someone forgot to wake him or her up. I don’t know what it was, but like, maybe we need to shift out these folks. But also, they have to understand that the perception that they’re giving off can also turn away this younger generation and they’re going to be like, you know what, I don’t want to work for a big place. I want to start my own stuff because I like having people that are different around and I want My agency to look like my college classroom. Even if I went to a predominantly white institution, I saw that we had like three or four black kids come Latinx kids, some some Asian kids have disabled kids, whatever the case may be some gay kids. That’s what I want my agency to look like. And they’ll just start their own stuff. And then they’re gonna start taking these big giants lunch. That’s what’s gonna happen. The entrepreneurs, you know, and I know, between millennials and Gen Z, the entrepreneur spirit is there, bro. It’s there. And they’re smart. And they work faster than these old cats. So after a while, you know, they better hold on to their lunch money because it’s gonna go like yeah, I know they’re super invested and they got millions in the bank. But these young cats are going to take the money make better work and make more money.

Tim
That’s what’s good. It’s the plainly put the no one wants to say adapt or die. Yes, not say it like that. Let’s say adapt and win. Yeah. Because you have the strength of all those people on your team and get all those W’s and not have to even consider what it would be like to have your company fail. Yeah, yeah. So is there anything that we haven’t touched on that you want to make sure you get out? Or have we kind of navigated this conversation in the way where you think we’ve gotten everything?

Keni
I think we covered it all. You know, I talk a lot, bro.

Tim
I know. I just let you go. It’s a good this is a good topic. I didn’t want to step on any toes. Yeah.

Keni
I mean, I mean, I think I covered everything. I mean, you know, Lord knows when we hop off, Oh, I should have said that. But I mean, but also like to enjoy the moment. And, and this is, and this is, you know, you know, like talking to you. And I think for this moment, I have covered everything that I could possibly cover without sounding extremely redundant.

Tim
No, I mean I / we appreciate it.

Keni
I mean, there’s work to do there’s a lot of people willing to do the work regardless of what your background is and that’s why you know I got love for you and and the folks up there and buffalo but um yeah, there’s a lot of work to do but it can be done but it’s just a matter of having the right plate people in the right places and waking some of these old folks up make it happen.

Tim
Why don’t you let people know where they can find you online and if you want to also say a little bit more about where they can find out more about hundred verses from concrete.

Keni
Yeah, so I mean, online, everything is just pennypacker nothing that interesting. This Katie and I tha ck er, Instagram, Twitter 100 rosewood concrete calm at 100 RFC on Twitter, and 100 Roseman concrete on Instagram. That’s where you can find all our stuff. There’s always are always posting about Something or thanking somebody for something. Shout out to all of our partners shout out to save the internships and why shout out to ag club in New York. Yeah, that’s like oh and Kenny Thacker calm. If you care to look at my site, you can either go down there too, because everything that I’m talking about, you can kind of see in a content version of everything that you know, I’m talking about here today so yeah, Kenny Thacker calm hundred rosewood concrete calm that’s it man.

Tim
Cool and I I promised my friend Shakeel who is one of my former interns that I would also plug opentheblackdoor.com which is his his site.

Keni
Shout out shout out to open the black door. I met them when I was up hanging out with you guys. Yeah, definitely shout out to open a black door. They they’ve they’ve definitely stayed in touch since um, since my trip to Buffalo. Yeah,

Tim
It’s a good site that collects freelancers that are available for work. And also post job opportunities and shares job are In the minority community, so yeah, man, thanks for taking the time with me. People can follow you learn more, of course. And this was great educational and just a good conversation. So.

Keni
Thank you for having me. I appreciate you, Tim.

Tim
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai