East meets West POVs

Inclusion and Diversity

Inclusion & diversity at Cannes Lions

Written by Guleed Afhakame 

“No matter what Guleed, you are not white, so everything will always be more difficult for you”

When I was fourteen that’s something my brother warned me about. Although he was right. I am optimistic about the future because of all the changes that are going on.

Going to different sessions this week, I realized that everyone is trying to wrap their heads around inclusion & diversity. What’s wrong here? In an industry where finding ways to shape perception is the majority of what we do, it’s bizarre to me that we’re finally having this conversation about Inclusion & diversity. But I’m glad that we’re finally having it.

Cannes Lions did a great job by inviting speakers who represent the people who are misrepresented, underrepresented or not represented at all. Below you find the key takeaways from some of the sessions I attended today.

Advice I’d give my 20-something self – David Shing

Widely regarded as one of the most remarkable speaker, David Shing talk was insightful, fun and quotable, and that was the perfectl sum up of being different. He is the guy that got some trolls pretty frothy because of his title and hair-do. He said that we should embraces being different. He told us to go where we’re celebrated.

Developing countries are reinventing the world – Lilian Tse

This session showed how emerging markets have become the latest experimental hubs for breaking new grounds in life-changing experiences. They explored how the innovation process in some of the world’s poorest countries differs from the world’s richest. It was very interesting to see that the flow of innovation is changing.

Publishing culture forward: The Gucci & Dapper dan Story – Robert Triefus

Robert Triefus demonstrated what Gucci did to overcome the horrible blackface scandal in 2018. They but inclusion at the core of the brand and hired the right people to proactively celebrat different cultures. They even hired a Global Inclusion director.  I really like the way they stoped talking to the consumer and started talking with them.

Final thoughts

After all these years I think we’re finally reaching the point where my brother is wrong about everything being more difficult because I’m different. I truly believe that it will become my greatest weapon. So I hope we continue to champion those who are not sufficiently represented and make sure the industry is doing what it needs to do in the area of diversity and inclusion. Stay woke.