Erica Conway and the team at C2 Graphics Productivity Solutions, along with AIGA-WI, United Adworkers, and 414digital, hosted Fuze MKE – a think-tank style diversity and inclusion event. (Full disclosure: CID was also a sponsor of this event.)
Inspired by an event she attended in Chicago, Erica wanted to bring something similar to Milwaukee. Why call it Fuze MKE? As Erica said, it was literally about lighting a fuse that sparks a fire in Milwaukee’s creative community to turn great conversation into even greater action.
Taking action starts here
Attendees were seated in small groups and encouraged to sit with people we didn’t know. After some brilliant opening remarks by facilitators Lynette Xanders and Denise Thomas, small groups spent time addressing these two challenges:
- How can we make an incremental impact on increasing racial and ethnic diversity in MKE’s Creative Industry in 2019
- How can we make an incremental impact on reducing “everyday sexism”/ “clueless” sexual harassment in MKE’s Creative Industry in 2019?
Each group had a note taker and a speaker, and all groups in the room got time on the mic to share the ideas they came up with. The ideas were then voted on in real time (thanks to Proc-9 and their voting software).
The night’s big ideas
The two initiatives that came out of the night and will be worked on this year are:
AIGA will take on creating a “Big PUSH” week, by getting the creative world to come together for a week to reach out to all people. Milwaukee agencies will be challenged to get out of their bubbles to reach out to all ages and ethnicities, meet the groups of people where they’re at, and show that our community truly can come together and make a change. Big PUSH will lead to mentorship programs, and possibly a community ad camp project.
United Adworkers will work with professional development groups to create a Milwaukee Code of Conduct that agencies can sign on and build their culture around. Inside that code are two key pillars:
1) Addressing subtleties/everyday sexism
2) Having natural conversations about sexism and harassment
Elevate “inclusion” beyond a buzzword
One major takeaway for CID team members in attendance was to focus on the inclusion part of “diversity and inclusion.” As Denise Thomas put it, “focusing on the diversity part can sometimes come across as a ‘check the box’ activity. Focusing on inclusion is the real work.” She gave this great example of what actual inclusion can look like:
I invite Mary to a party. Even if she doesn’t know anyone there, she feels good because I invited her. If we get to that party and I say, “Okay, Mary, go have fun,” that doesn’t feel good. But, if I invite Mary to the party, and I get her out on the dance floor, she’s likely to have more fun. And, she’s more likely to carry it forward – meaning she’s likely to invite someone else to the next party.
Of course, these are not necessarily the most comfortable topics for everyone to talk about. But when it comes to making change, that’s kind of the point. Denise really encouraged attendees to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” She acknowledged that at a certain point we all might think, “Oh, don’t say this…” But, we used the basic rules of improv (“Yes, and…”), and promised to assume positive intent.
This event delivered, and we are looking forward to the ways the Fuze MKE initiative will transform and elevate our professional community.
CID was proud to be one of the many sponsors of this initiative, and we can’t wait to see – and be a part of – the positive change to come to our industry. Learn more about the event and stay up on the progress of the initiatives at fuzemke.com.