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Local agencies reflect on DEI efforts in 2022 and look forward to growing on them in 2023

February 20, 2023

Ad Industry,DEI

As an organization, AAF Greater Rochester has consistently heard from our members that there are plenty of resources for DEI efforts. Ways that we can best support our members include creating opportunities to connect and learn together from each other. 

With that in mind, a small group of individuals from Article Group, Butler/Till, Flynn, Helen+Gertrude, Optic Sky, Partners + Napier, and Truth Collective got together at the end of January to do just that. Our conversations focused on where our DEI journeys started to take shape, priorities within each agency, and where we’ve been since then.  

 This gathering, intended to happen a few times each year, was focused on where these organizations started, from a DEI perspective, and what their DEI efforts looked like in 2022. Here are some of the ways our Roundtable participants have been focusing on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging:

  • Partnering with the Marcus Graham Project to provide professional mentorship to diverse aspirants in the field of marketing and media
  • Growing a more diverse vendor partner roster, more than doubling the number of diverse vendors YoY with an aggressive goal for the year ahead
  • Partnering with Edison Tech’s Digital Media Arts and Communications pathway to support high school students in the areas of Advertising Design, Interactive Media Design, and Video and TV production and foster their interest in the advertising profession from a young age
  • Removing financial barriers from underserved student populations at the high school level (Edison Tech) and collegiate level (RIT) by donating laptops and technology to enable and empower these students in their career journey
  • Identifying a lack of diversity in specific roles within advertising (such as female producers) and seeking specific opportunities to hire, support, and raise them up with equal opportunities to grow
  • Adding specific DEI-focused curriculum to agency learning initiatives and engaging DEI experts/speakers to speak live and lead discussion in safe environments
  • Evaluating the equity of traditional workplace structures, procedures, and policies and asking internally: Who do they benefit? Should they stay this way?  
  • Hiring DEI-focused roles and leaders with a focus on creating a more inclusive environment for all employees and freelancers/contractors and understanding the specific DEI needs of employees


It was inspiring to hear from this group about where they’ve been, the challenges they’ve experienced on their DEI journey, and where they’ve found success. It’s clear to all of us that these are baby steps in the grand scheme of how far we have to go to improve individual and group DEI efforts, but movement in the right direction, nonetheless. One thing is certain — growth is key to diversification.

 So, what are we doing next? We’ll get this group together again in a few months to hear about what their current 2023 initiatives look like and opportunities to grow and learn together this year. We’re also evaluating a second roundtable cohort — if you’re interested in participating, please reach out to president@aafgreaterrochester.org