What does it take for diversity and inclusion to become a priority for the advertising, marketing, media and PR industries? Certainly more than an awards show. While we are proud to honor those who continue to take on this important issue, the AdColor Awards are just a start. It takes much more. It takes people who want to influence and mentor others.
Five years ago, we started the AdColor Awards as a Sunday night dinner at an industry conference. Since then, we’ve become an organization that has fought to bring to light the inspiring and remarkable achievements of 109 professionals of color, diversity champions and companies. The success of the AdColor Awards has given birth to our other programs:
-AdColor Reaches Back, a grant program for industry programs that support and mentor future talent.
-AdColor Diversity Summit, a gathering of directors of diversity programs in which best practices are shared and leveraged to increase retention among students and young professionals.
-AdMusic, a program to create opportunities for diverse, underexposed and talented emerging artists to have their music heard and considered by advertising, marketing and media influencers.
-AdColor Preferred Vendors, a supplier diversity initiative to support women-owned and minority businesses. Since its inception, AdColor has spent over $500,000 with diverse suppliers.
-AdColor Industry Conference, launched by the AdColor Industry Coalition, a forum for AdColor honorees, sponsors, suppliers and supporters to discuss topics that promote the continued importance of diversity and inclusion in marketing, employment and supplier engagement.
We started humbly by honoring individuals in five distinct categories from rising stars to legends. In 2011, we will honor an incredible group of professionals across 11 categories, including two new ones: the Catalyst Award, honoring industry pioneers, and the Advocate Award, in recognition of industry influencers from the LGBT community. This year, “Leave Your Mark” is the rallying cry of the AdColor Industry Coalition, the 109 AdColor honorees past and present, the hundreds of AdColor volunteers, the diverse suppliers and trade associations, the nominators, the sponsors who work collaboratively every year to bring the AdColor Awards & Industry Conference and related events to life.
The Class of 2011 represents the absolute best of what the advertising, marketing and media industries have to offer. Our motto is “As You Rise Up, Reach Back!” Many of the honorees this year, despite their demanding schedules, have given back not only to their respective industries but also to the AdColor Industry Coalition by donating their time, resources and knowledge. The headline is simple: From our rising stars to our lifetime achievers, each one of you can reach back and help others rise up.
I hope you take the time to read the inspiration, the hard-earned wisdom and the triumph in the words of the honoree profiles contained within this special section. Share it with your colleagues, communities and families.