No hard feelings

In the creative space, we tend to be jokesters—among ourselves at least. We rarely let an idea, shared link or interesting fact slip by without responding to it, always looking for an opportunity to one-up the original. Maybe we do it to hone our creative edge, or remind each other of our talents.

It’s all good fun, or so we think. Because no hard feelings, right?

Except these days, we’ve all got a lot of feelings. It’s hard to watch the news or scroll Twitter and NOT feel anger. Or pain. Or hopelessness.

One feeling that we’ve been trying to focus on? Empathy. Whether we’re on a call with a client who’s apologizing because their dog is snoring, or one of us is having a tough day because they haven’t seen their family in six months, we find ourselves telling the other it’s OK, while wishing we could reach through our laptop screens and offer more meaningful comfort (and pet that dog because he’s freaking adorable).

We’re also trying to uncover more meaningful empathy. As at many companies, we have been moved to action by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others. We feel the raw outrage but also the burn of knowing that we could do more to right a system that should be more just—and more inclusive.

Our diversity and inclusion committee meets weekly to find ways to do more than provide the standard corporate lip service. In our conversations, we’re taking care to listen as well as act, hearing perhaps for the first time how our past inaction has caused hurt.

We come into our weekly meeting ablaze with a desire to right all of the wrongs at once, emboldened by the power we wield as an agency to not only create work that’s truly representative and resonant but to also be a force for real change in every choice we make.

We found quickly that we can’t solve everything all at once. Instead, we are zeroing in on where we can effect immediate change: our hiring practices, the culture we create, and how we think about portfolio reviews.

Through all of that, there are lots of feelings, but the undertone remains empathy. We are looking back at where have misstepped, and forward to creating a more inclusive place. We have more work to do, but we’re on the way to change. That’s more than a feeling.