Lack of diversity has been a primary cause of concern in the advertising industry and the calls for more action have only gotten louder over the years. Publicis Media created its annual Multicultural Pipeline Program, a two-day workshop, to expose potential new talent to the advertising and marketing industry. The tenor of this year's event was distinctly different, as the MCTP passed an important milestone in celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Ten years marks a significant inflection point and affords everyone involved in this program the opportunity to examine both its legacy and its future. We have an opportunity to reflect on its mission — i.e., to address the perceived pipeline issue that serves as an impediment to inclusivity in advertising — and engage MCTP alumni who can share their perspective.
I am no stranger to MCTP, having had the opportunity to both speak to its leadership and attend the event in the past. These interactions have shown me that Publicis Media has made a significant commitment to exposing diverse talent to the advertising and marketing industry. Perhaps more importantly, that commitment does not end when the MCTP workshop concludes.
As I spoke to MCTP alumni to get their thoughts on both the program and their early careers, it became clear that exposure is essential, but is just a first step. Addressing the pipeline challenge inherent in creating a diverse workforce means bringing MCTP alumni wholly into the organization. For the MCTP to be successful, it must act as a bridge to an audience that might not know much about the world they could potentially be entering.
"The excitement in the room and the energy of the Publicis facilitators left an impression on me when I was at the workshop," says Tyler Faush (pictured at top), currently a supervisor atStarcom and MCTP Class of 2016. "As a student, I was still unclear what path I wanted my career to take. But once I was immersed in MCTP, it began to crystallize that Publicis Media was an environment I could see myself thriving in."
Mduduzi Hlatshwayo (pictured above/center), a media planner at Zenith and MCTP Class of 2016 alumni, expresses a similar sentiment: "I didn't think advertising was a viable career choice for me because my perception was that you had to be a creative person to thrive. MCTP exposed me to different careers and types of people, and it became clear I could find my path forward at an organization like Publicis Media."
Publicis Media has also committed to hiring more people with STEM backgrounds, expanding its talent pool to include people with more technical "left brain" expertise.
MCTP, through focusing on students at critical career moments, has been able to latch onto talent that might have otherwise chosen a different route.
Support of MCTP has never been higher throughout the Publicis Media organization. The 10th-anniversary edition saw more than 80 volunteers and speakers, as well as 11 new sponsors and partners. This type of support is required for MCTP to both scale and accomplish its mission of reaching students. The workshop is free to students, which ensures that economics will not be a barrier to their participation. The proof is in the numbers: This year's gathering saw a 20 percent increase in student attendance over 2019. The spike in student participation provides substantial evidence that the type of real-world applications a program such as MCTP can have in their lives is invaluable. "Seeing professionals on the stage who look like me having success in their respective careers gave me the confidence to join full time," says Chianne Jolly (pictured above/right), Starcom media associate and MCTP Class of 2018.
The impact of MCTP does not begin and end at the workshop. The program's influence can be felt in the commitment to mentoring and training its alumni. "I am encouraged to build relationships and make deep connections throughout the organization," says Starcom's Faush, adding that "we have been given an incredible set of tools and now we have to utilize them in service to our clients and our careers. MCTP set all of that in motion."
There is still heavy lifting to be done when it comes to achieving the industry's diversity goals. Publicis Media, through the decade-long stewardship of its MCTP workshop, has consistently strived to be an active participant in doing some of that lifting. Engaged Publicis Media professionals, partners, and MCTP alumni are integral stakeholders in the notion that the next decade can be even more successful.
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