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Last week I had the opportunity to attend Ad Club’s Women’s Leadership Forum. It was inspiring to hear so many accomplished women share their knowledge and experiences with us. As a young female professional, early on in the grand scheme of my career, it was refreshing to hear about a topic nearly everyone is impacted by but few speak about: burnout. The session, poetically called The Betrayal of Burnout, was led by Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a psychiatrist and author specializing in women’s mental health. Burnout is a word that feels all too familiar to many of us — especially in this past year and a half during the pandemic, where it’s been challenging to separate work life from home life when they are taking place in the same space. Dr. Lakshmin poignantly suggested the term ‘burnout’ itself exonerates a system that does not do enough to support mental health, working parents, or child care. According to Dr. Lakshmin, the most frequent response to an individual expressing burnout is “Are you going to therapy?”, or “Are you doing self-care?”. This, she claims, places the burden of responsibility onto the person, and not onto a system that is evidently flawed. Faux self-care practices like yoga, meditation and spa retreats will not solve the problems that come with burnout. Those are privileged solutions that many people do not have access to, and oftentimes are not long-term solutions. The only thing that worked for her was learning how to say no and setting proper boundaries. Below are a few important lessons that Dr. Lakshmin shared to help women set boundaries in their professional lives. The outcome? Increases in quality of work and client satisfaction are just a few of the benefits that stem from women in the workplace setting boundaries and avoiding burnout. No one is going to make the choices for you and your best interest — you must make those for yourself. As women, Dr. Lakshmin says, we tend to put ourselves last. She warns that getting into a “martyr mode” comes with a cost. In order to truly prioritize your mental health, you need to make space for yourself. Whether it’s setting your Slack status to “Away” to take that midday walk that gives you a mental reprieve, or declining to take on a new project that would strain your already tight bandwidth — these are the decisions we can make for our own mental health that help make us more focused while we are working and more easily unplug when we aren’t. Communicate your priorities to the people in your life. Dr. Lakshmin encourages women to decide what your values are in your current season of life. Different seasons bring different priorities. Some seasons, she suggests, are for prioritizing your family, and some are for your professional work. You can communicate those to the people in your life. For example, if it’s important to you to have dinner with your family, then let your colleagues and clients know that you’ll be offline at 6pm. Setting those expectations creates clear boundaries your team and clients can respect. Sharing these priorities also humanizes us and can encourage our team and clients to do the same, creating a more empathetic workplace for all. Feeling guilt does not mean you’re making the wrong choice. Dr. Lakshmin recognizes that sometimes when we set boundaries as women, we feel a sense of guilt for putting ourselves first. In a society that conditions women to be the caretakers, this is an all too common reaction. She instead offers to think of your guilt as a faulty check engine light: just because you feel guilty does not mean something is wrong or that you’re making the wrong choice. Reframe it as building up your muscle to tolerate self-care. Most importantly, Dr. Lakshmin reiterates, when you’re feeling burnt out, try to remind yourself this is a systemic issue. This is not something that we as women are creating for ourselves; instead, we are simply reacting to it. We must remember self-care is a verb, not a noun, and the real work is internal. We need to get our feelings out in a trusted space whether that’s with our partner, mentor, or friend. Holding those feelings inside will only work against us. Just like Dr. Lakshmin, when you take the risk to advocate for what you need and want in the workplace, you're empowering the women that are coming behind you as well as making yourself a better employee and partner to your clients.
AMP Attends the Ad Club Women’s Leadership Forum On the eve of AMP’s quarterly mental health office closure, a group of AMP’s female associates virtually gathered to attend The Women’s Leadership Forum (2021) hosted by the Ad Club. The tagline of this year’s event, Nevertheless, She Persisted, was a foreshadowing of the primary theme throughout each session: persistence. By extension, this stands out as a reflection of an AMP core value: growth. Fighting Invisibility Gender and ethnicity also served as contextual backdrops for the stories told within each session. Award-winning author Gish Jen discussed her experience of becoming a novelist as an Asian American woman and the outside responses this frequently evoked. Being questioned as to why she wasn’t writing stories set in China was a common occurrence for Jen, and she explained that experiences like these often leave Asian Americans feeling invisible. However, instead of playing the role of a “professional victim”, as Jen puts it, she chose to stand her ground. Her decided response was: “Do Asians write about these topics? They do now.” Making Intentional Choices This notion of choice recurred throughout several sessions, with speakers explaining that having intentional responses to negative situations has profoundly shaped their journeys. Former NWHL Player & Pro Scout Blake Bolden owns that her successes have always come from the choices that she’s made. Growing up as a Black female, she had to rely largely on herself to make these choices as the sport lacked other Black females whom she could look up to. Now, Bolden is able to be that role model for other young women. “When you decide to wake up an choose to be better every single day, you’re not just making in an impact on yourself, but you could also be making an impact on someone else,” she noted while retelling the story of meeting a young Black girl who’d been inspired by Holden to play hockey. It was then that Holden realized she wasn’t just playing for herself, she was also playing for the people that she inspires. “You always have an option to choose,” she says. Being Kind To Yourself That said, getting better every day doesn’t mean working around-the-clock and ignoring burnout. To visual artist Nancy Floyd, giving herself permission to reflect and reset has allowed her to rediscover her passion for artistic endeavors that she’s become disinterred in. “Take baby steps,” she advises. “You don’t want to work out? Drive to the gym, and if you still don’t want to work out, drive home.” While she certainly isn’t a procrastinator, self-forgiveness and kind inner talk live at the center of Floyd’s creative process. Staying The Course During another session led by Wendy Ong, U.S. President of TaP Music & TaP records, listeners learned about her unconventional journey from a small apartment in Singapore to leading record labels and discovering top talent in the U.S. After moving to the U.S. with her then-husband, Ong did everything she could to land a job in the music industry, including blindly knocking on doors at record companies in NYC. After finally breaking into the scene, Ong experienced several years of success before a particularly disheartening experience at a label that left her wanting to quit the industry and return to Singapore. With the encouragement of her parents, she decided to keep marching towards her dreams. Now, as the President of a major U.S. record label, paving the way for other young women in the industry has become one of her primary passions. Noting that she wouldn’t want others to face the same struggles, she goes out of her way to “dust off the path for others so they can start their journey a little easier”. Becoming Unstoppable Each of these women come from vastly different backgrounds. Unwaveringly though, throughout their stories we are met first with persistence and then with growth. We quickly learn that when determination is combined with intentional choices, self-forgiveness and the understanding that actions can lead to positive change for not just the person taking action but others who look up to them as well, we become unstoppable.
This Women’s History Month, AMP explored what women today want from brands, advertisers, and marketers. Since there are approximately 3.9 billion women in the world — each with their own unique personalities, backgrounds, and desires — we’ve narrowed the focus of this article to three desires that stood out to us during our research. We’ve also included insights from women we interviewed who have worked in the advertising and marketing industry. (Their names have been removed for privacy.) We don’t claim to speak on behalf of all women, but instead aim to highlight some of the desires and expectations for brands & the industry that many women have expressed in recent years. Women Want More Diverse and Intersectional Representation Over the past decade, there have been some incredible pushes towards more diverse representation of women in advertising — from The National Lottery’s uplifting & inclusive “This Girl Can” campaign to this amazing photo of Black transqueer lesbian model Jari Jones popping open a bottle of champagne in front of her larger-than-life Calvin Klein ad. Most of the women we spoke to in the industry mentioned that they’ve seen more diverse representation in recent years: more interracial couples, more body sizes in the fashion world, more stay-at-home dads, and fewer blatantly sexist ads. Still, only 29% of American women believe they are accurately represented in advertising, according to a recent study by data intelligence company Morning Consult. (The same study found that 44% of American men believe women are accurately represented.) As advertisers and marketers, a crucial step in developing a strategy plan is studying our consumers and learning about their wants, needs, and habits. So why does the industry continue to miss the mark with female representation? Perhaps it has something to do with the word “and.” Because a consumer is never just a woman. Maybe she’s a woman and bisexual and Latinx and a stepmom and really into Maseratis and perfume. When we look at female representation, we must consider intersectionality and what other identities might matter to female consumers. Let’s say our consumer identifies as a lesbian. According to a 2019 survey of 2,000 adults in the UK by GAY TIMES and Karmarama, 72% of LGBTQ respondents think the way they’re represented in advertising is tokenistic. Let’s say she has a disability. The Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities (CSPD) reported in 2019 that only 3% of characters on North American television have disabilities and of these, 95% are played by able-bodied actors. (This statistic inspired their moving “Visibility for Disability” campaign.) Let’s say she’s a mom. A 2019 report from the brand Motherly with almost 6,500 survey respondents found that 85% of millennial moms don’t feel like society does a good job of understanding and supporting them. Let’s say she’s a woman of color. A 2019 study on the representation of Black women and girls in Hollywood found that Black females and other females of color are more likely to be portrayed partially/fully nude than white females — in films and on TV. The same study found that white female TV characters are more likely to have a job (89.6%) compared to Black female characters (70.5%) and other female characters of color (58.8%). (This study was conducted by The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and focused on family films and TV.) How might it feel to see characters who look like her repeatedly oversexualized and underemployed? Even if a woman feels her “womanness” — or whatever you want to call it — is well-represented, maybe she doesn’t feel like her other identities are well-represented. Maybe the commercials, print ads, and radio spots she encounters are not adding up to how she sees herself as a whole woman person. Women Don’t Want to Be Superheroes (At Least Not All the Time) The brilliant author Carmen Maria Machado wrote, “We deserve to have our wrongdoing represented as much as our heroism, because when we refuse wrongdoing as a possibility for a group of people, we refuse their humanity.” Our messy complexities are part of what make us human. And it turns out, a lot of women want to see more of this messiness, and less of the fully put together superwoman archetype we’ve been served again and again in past decades. One ad that leans into this attitude superbly is Frida Mom’s “Stream of Lactation” commercial, which highlights the highs and lows of breastfeeding with an authentic, stream-of-conscious voiceover. One woman in the industry we interviewed said: I LOVE the new Frida commercial about breastfeeding. While watching the commercial, I felt seen and understood. I saw myself and thought "Wow, that's exactly what I do" or "Yes, that happened to me." Women want to see other women that they identify with, and that's the best (and most ethical) way to sell your product. For years, women were served razor ads featuring models with shaved skin and pad ads featuring that notorious blue liquid. Marketers made shaving and menstruation seem like a walk in the park. But then came “Blood Normal” and Billie. “Blood Normal” by hygiene company Libresse broke ground as the first campaign to show actual period blood. Billie similarly changed the game by creating the first razor campaign for women featuring actual body hair. And people loved it. “Blood Normal” won the coveted Glass Lion for Change Grand Prix at Cannes and Billie has grown to be a successful brand with 278k followers on Instagram. By portraying women in nontraditional but relatable ways, brands like Libresse and Billie have managed to both diversify female representation and gain a loyal following of customers. Women Want Brands to Play a Role In the Conversation on Social Issues and Gender In the era of social media, brand accountability, and virtual boycotts, we are seeing more women putting pressure on brands to speak up on social issues. When the Black Lives Matter protests surged in spring 2020, numerous brands spoke out on the topic of racial justice. But for many internet users, these efforts — many of which took the form of social media posts — didn’t go far enough. Examples of real comments posted on one popular fashion brand’s 2020 posts: “If you just posted a square, you’re performative!” “What steps have you implemented to date?” “So this was a lie.” “I’m so sad to hear all this and will no longer support [brand name]. I’ve been a diehard fan for so long. I will never stand for a brand that would allow, at any capacity, racial profiling.” This brand has over 4 million followers on Instagram. And it’s just one of many brands we saw called out in 2020 for their social media responses to current events. We’re also hearing women say they want brands to contribute more directly to the conversation on gender. A women who works in the industry told us: I want to see more men wondering what detergent to use and more women thinking about what kind of cool car to drive. In my own relationship, my husband is very concerned about dishwasher liquid (really) and I want to drive a slick fast car on an open road. Life is changing, roles are changing, and all I'm asking is to see that reflected. Big brands especially have so much power to normalize and destigmatize. Another important step in joining this conversation is amplifying female voices at brands and agencies. It’s not just about hiring more women, but also promoting them to management and leadership positions. When The 3% Movement was founded in 2012, only 3% of all US Creative Directors were women. The organization has since helped push that number to 29% today — an amazing increase, but still not close to 50%. Promoting women to leadership positions adds diverse perspectives to our teams and brings more female insights into how women want to be represented. How To Give Women What They Want There are so many ways organizations can tailor their branding, advertising, and marketing efforts to better address the desires and expectations of women. They can engage with the conversation on social issues and gender, complexify female roles in their campaigns, and offer more diverse and intersectional representations of women across the board. They can also enrich their internal teams by hiring women, and promoting them to leadership roles. The goal isn’t for every brand to try and address all the desires of every woman on the planet, but to make efforts day by day where you can. For example, if parents make up a large percentage of your target audience, you might consider how to bring intersectional, complex representations of moms to your ads. Think of where it makes sense to engage authentically with your customers. Insights from Women Who Work in the Industry To get a better idea of how the marketing and advertising industry is currently addressing female wants and expectations from the inside, we interviewed some of the women we know. The responses below come from people who have worked as interns, freelancers, and full-timers — at agencies and in-house — with experience ranging from 3-10+ years in the industry. Q: What do you want from the ads and marketing tactics you see in the world? A: “I would like to see more representation throughout ad campaigns. It would be nice to see people who look like me and the people around me, and not just the same famous people.” “I've seen companies attempt to be more socially aware (or "woke," if you will) but sometimes it backfires. I want advertisers to stop trying so hard in their marketing tactics or do a better job of reading the room.” “I always respond to authenticity, self-awareness and especially humor — the Ok Cupid "DTF” campaign is a great example. As a consumer, I do not respond well to feeling shamed or condescended to.” “I want to see all types of women doing all types of things. I also would love for brands to call out censorship, double-standards, or gender roadblocks in their ads directly.” Q: What are your expectations for the campaigns you yourself put out in the world? A: “To cast women in unexpected roles. Conversely, to not only show moms as caretakers and nurturers.” “I do my best to make people think about the thing we're advertising in a new way, whether that means showing them a way our product can add something new and positive to their lives, or just causing them to stop and laugh at an interesting image or headline. I also feel a pretty heavy responsibility not to add to any of the toxic stereotypes or standards that we're all — but especially women — constantly bombarded with.” “What an incredible responsibility we play as women in the biz. It's frustrating to see the same narrative about the same woman over and over. And it's a true challenge to bend that narrative into one that's more truthful of our experiences. But it's a fight worth fighting, and I think having women in leadership roles in advertising is greatly improving this issue.” Q: How are women portrayed in advertising? Do you predict this changing in the upcoming year? A: “Over the past ten or twenty years, we've gone from a total proliferation of the same cookie-cutter image to the slow, incremental appearance of more diverse, ‘real’ images of women. As we've seen more and more brands jump on that bandwagon, I can't help but feel a little cynical. Pop feminism and ‘girl power’ have become just another sales tool... it's still so much about making women feel like they need things to be fully realized. It's just gone from, ‘Buy this product and you'll be beautiful’ to, ‘Buy this product and you'll be empowered.’” “My wife and I have both been hyper-aware of the significant increase of interracial couples featured in ads, which is very exciting. For 2021, I'd love to see more of this, and a lot more queer women of all races, ages, body shapes, and ethnicities. I have seen lesbian couples here and there, but I haven't seen many lesbian parents.” “I think there's still an absence of women who are 40+ in the advertising I see. Middle age isn't what it used to be and it would be great to see the modern, mature woman portrayed more in advertising that is not related to medications.” “One thing I hope would change is the Instagram fad of everyone looking like a Kardashian. Influencers are such a huge part of advertising, and we know how harmful those unrealistic depictions of beauty can be.” “For the most part women have been either hyper-sexualized or seen as arm-candy to sell a product. There are more conversations and actions happening in recent years to represent women in less hyper-sexualized roles. On the other hand, I do not have a problem with women being portrayed sexually. Especially in fashion and art. I think there has to be care in not being over-sexualized, where the woman then becomes an object of desire.” Q: Do you feel satisfied with how you see women represented in advertising today? A: “Satisfied would sound like there is not room for improvement. I think it’s much better than it was 10 years ago and hope it keeps evolving.” “One thing that bothers me about the way Black women are represented in advertising today is that there is still a bias toward light-skinned Black women or women who look mixed race. Obviously this is an old issue, but it still persists and needs to change.” “I think so… It is encouraging to see women of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors, and identities in ads these days… depicted as funny, strong, silly, beautiful, smart, and all of the ways you can be depicted. However, I do think we still need to come up with more ways to flip the script.” “I don’t know if I’m satisfied with how women are represented in advertising yet. I think having more women in advertising and higher positions would change the outcome of some campaigns. There can’t be representation properly done without real women’s voices.” Q: How does it feel to be a woman working in this industry? A: “I’ve been fortunate to work in an environment where I haven’t felt treated differently for being a woman.” “A lot of days I don't think about it too much, but it probably informs everything I do.” “There’s always room for improvement. There's no better time to be a woman in history than today, and hopefully thirty years down the line, a woman will say the same thing. We should always be striving for better.”
Each spring, people all over the world celebrate Holi. Known as “the festival of colors,” this ancient Hindu festival signifies the triumph of good over evil. A popular Holi tradition is the throwing of gulal (colorful powder) at friends, family, and even strangers. We sent our AMPers gulal so we could share the joy of Holi together — even while we’re far apart. Check out the video! Happy Holi, everyone!
Today, March 8th, marks the annual International Women’s Day where we globally celebrate the achievements and successes of women everywhere. In recognition of today and Women’s History Month, we’ve asked five women from our agency to join us for Voices AMPlified, an ongoing panel series designed to spark discussion and highlight notable moments throughout the year. This month, our panel is centered around what it means to be women in the advertising and marketing industry. To kick things off, we’ve asked them to answer the question: “What would you tell your younger self?” Check out what they had to say: Katelyn Crowley, VP of Talent & Strategic Operations “There are a lot of great things about being an adult — like setting our own bedtime. But perhaps most importantly, with age comes the wisdom and perspective we only wish we had when we were younger. If I could give my younger-self advice, I would say: Invest in finding and building partnerships with people who cheer you on and cheer you up. I’m fortunate enough to have a close-circle of incredible women who always have my back and push me to be better. I also married a man who treats me as an equal partner. I will never regret stopping the hustle to tune in, spend time and connect with these people. Also, remember to wear sunscreen!” Rosetta Lane, SR. Producer “I would tell my younger self that your job does not define who you are, and that more often than not, people remember what you do less than how you do it. The answer is not always to hustle harder, but to instead cherish the present, find daily ways to grow in and out work, and save room for yourself to rest. Burnout is real, don’t wait until someone gives you a break (you’ll be waiting a long time!), take what you need to stay balanced. Above all else, have patience, you can’t rush the wisdom that comes with experience.” Kiki Takakura-Merquise, VP, Digital Transformation “Notes to a younger self - Loneliness is temporal and it will always be back; get comfortable with silence and learn to be your own friend. - It is normal to be angry but do not let it blind you; use it to focus and create clarity to find a better path. - Never eat bananas before checking on a beehive; seriously, don’t do it.” Surina Sud, Consumer Research Associate Strategist “If I could give advice to my younger self today, I would tell her not be afraid of anything. I’d tell her to speak up, take risks, and believe in herself because she can do anything. I’d remind her to do what makes her laugh, do what she loves, to not fear of what people think – and to be proud of who she is.” Samantha Thu, Media Director “Now that I’ve finally figured out what I want and what makes me happy, I would tell my younger self to not worry about what others are doing and focus on my own path, whether that was personal, professional or just in general. I used to put so much undue stress on myself to chase the next promotion, compare my career path with others, and to move onto the next thing. I wish I had stopped to take a breath and just enjoy the moment, soak it in and not always be looking one step ahead. The true achievement was personal growth and development into the confident and experienced individual I am today, commanding all of my decisions without hesitation, self-doubt and question. When I finally slowed down a few years ago and made this realization, my quality of life - mentally, emotionally and physically - was far greater than I could have imagined and any continued growth has really presented itself in a more natural progression, at times when I’m truly ready for it.” To learn more about International Women’s Day, check out this website.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a month-long celebration of the contributions, history and culture of Hispanic & Latinx communities in the United States. During the 2020 celebration, AMP Agency held its first Voices AMPlified panel, which consisted of 4 hispanic and Latinx AMP employees discussing their personal experiences growing up and how their career led them to the marketing and advertising world. Check out some of the highlights from the AMPlified Voices panel in this video.
This Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Observed on the third Monday of every January, this holiday celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and the legacy he leaves behind. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service, encouraging people to volunteer in an effort to help improve their communities. Considered a “day on” instead of a day off, many of us at AMP are dedicating today to helping support our communities – and we encourage you to do the same. Here are some of the ways you can give back to your community this MLK Day. Volunteer or Donate to a Food Bank or Organization Want to help folks in need? Try volunteering at your local food bank to help feed the people in your community. If you’re not able to volunteer in person this year, think about collecting some food to donate. These organizations below are great places to get started: Feeding America Meals on Wheels Donate to a Charity Organization Looking for something you can do from home? Consider making a donation to a charity of your choice. There are a number of excellent causes and organizations that you can donate to this MLK Day, including these non-profits: MLK Community Hospital Children’s Trust Movember Participate in a Neighborhood Clean Up Interested in helping improve your community? Gather a small group of neighbors and lead a neighborhood clean up. Your group can pick up litter, plant trees and flowers, and help neighbors clean their yards. Be sure to observe social distancing and wear a mask and gloves. Walk in an MLK Day March Want to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr? Search for local MLK Day marches and celebrations that you can safely attend. Encourage friends and family to also attend or volunteer at events and organizations around the country. If you’re interested in learning about more service opportunities, check out this directory.
As an agency, it is our responsibility to champion the varied viewpoints, cultures and expertise of our workforce. In June, we made a promise to actively support diversity and foster greater inclusivity at AMP. In July, we formalized our commitment through the creation of our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Committee. Today, we’re introducing the DE&I Committee Members who are spearheading our initiatives. Shayne Ortiz, Senior Analyst & DE&I Lead "I joined the DE&I committee to inspire young women. At AMP, I'm inspired every day by the women in senior leadership positions here, and I want to be able to show younger women more representation in positions like these. Our company's prioritization of these efforts is commendable, and I hope that through our program's initiatives we can influence our industry and hold those within it accountable to do the right thing." Michael Mish, SVP General Manager & Executive Sponsor "Unity gives us strength. My role as a multicultural leader is to create equal platforms and opportunities for all to be successful." Katelyn Crowley, VP of Business Operations & Executive Sponsor "I hope my children exist in a world where company DE&I committees are not necessary because everyone has equal opportunity, the world is fair and just and we celebrate what is both common and different. My role as a parent is to teach my children early in their lives that in diversity there is power. My role on the AMP DE&I Committee is a chance to model the behaviors that get us to that place in the future." Anika Dhar, Project Manager & DE&I Secretary "No two people or their experiences are alike. I believe that a diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, ideas, decisions and outcomes - especially when it comes to the advertising industry. I am honored to be on this team working with a group of people who all value diversity, inclusivity and strive to make a change. " Alyssa McBryar, Senior Marketing Manager "Inequity, systems of oppression, and prejudice are omnipresent. They need to be dismantled for everyone to access and thrive in equitable and supportive environments. I’m committed to the work of doing so at AMP and in our industry." Roberto Valdivieso, Art Director "As a minority, working at an agency that allows me the opportunity to change inequalities within the workplace motivates me to be part of the DE&I committee at AMP." Esther Wang, Senior Account Executive "Inherent biases and prejudice don’t foster inclusivity. I want to take action and create an inclusive workplace here at AMP. We should celebrate, in fact encourage, the differences among us - including how we think, what we believe in and how we look." Rashida Hull, Engagement Strategist “My parents always told me I wasn’t allowed to complain about things, instead create solutions. My core value is to help support the changes I believe in to help make the world a better place for future generations.” Liz Furze, Associate Creative Director "I believe we all have a responsibility to help dismantle systems of racism, sexism, and inequity in our communities—and one of the places we can make the most impact is where we work." Adam Graves, Group Director, Analytics "Creating equal access to opportunity, humanity, and respect – this is what matters to me. I want to help break the system that has made it acceptable – if not habitual – for these resources to be withheld from people who don’t fit a specific mold. Everyone inherently deserves a chance to thrive." Jennifer Carroll, Director PR & Media Relations "Diversity, equity and inclusion isn’t only about policies and programs, it’s rooted in respecting the unique needs, perspectives and potential of everyone. I am committed to helping make AMP a workplace where all employees feel welcomed and where success is attainable for everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation." Learn more about AMP's commitment to Anti-Racism: https://www.ampagency.com/blog/anti-racism-commitments
By Stephanie Twining, Director of Social Media A few weeks ago, I was inspired by my friends on the Hispanic Heritage Month Panel to extend my learnings and experiences to the larger AMP team and beyond. While I’ve known October to be Filipino American History Month for some time, I wasn’t certain how to personally celebrate aside from the making of Filipino food (lumpia, ftw). So, in honor of this celebratory month, thank you for letting me share a bit of my story with you. While many recognize and admire famous Filipinos like Manny Pacquiao and Jo Koy (trust me, we love them too!), the magnitude of the Filipino American community as a whole is often overlooked. Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian American group in the United States and the largest Asian American group in Washington state, where I live. Even still, I’ve found that we fly under the radar. Often identified as Asian, Pacific Islander, neither, or somewhere in between, answering the common “what is your race?” question is tricky. A quick introduction: I am half Filipino and a first generation Filipino American. My dad was born in Manila and immigrated to the US with my grandparents and aunt when he was seven. My mom, on the other hand, is a blend of Irish and German, inheriting her red hair and blue eyes from my grandparents who migrated to Seattle from the Dakotas. What a power combo. 😊 While I love both sides of my family dearly and have developed so much pride for this mix, I’ve admittedly spent much of my life trying to understand my unique ethnic identity. When you’re in school, all you want is to fit in. I mean, who doesn’t? But when you’re one of only three kids who don't present white in your K-8th grade class, that truly isn’t possible. Regardless of my photo being used on the front of brochures and websites to showcase diversity for schools and organizations, I’ve also been told by people of color, “you’re not Asian enough”. In 7th grade I was asked to speak Spanish in front of my class because the teacher assumed I could speak it fluently (Tagalog is the national language in the Philippines, by the way). In high school, I was asked to “prove” that I was Filipino and was told “there’s no way you’re Asian”. I have been challenged to pronounce my maiden name correctly many, many times (“No, that can’t be how you say it”). As recently as January, I was told it would be great to have me in the room as a woman of color because I would “check a lot of boxes”. I don’t share these stories for pity and understand that there are much larger issues at bay when it comes to race in the United States. Rather, I point them out as common examples of micro aggressions against racially ambiguous and/or mixed-race people because I know that these comments and prejudices derail progress being made toward journeys of self-discovery and contentment. Today, I feel very confident in who I am and have a deep appreciation for where my family comes from. Two big things have led me to this: In 2014, I visited the Philippines with my entire family for the first time. I have since described the trip as an “Eat Pray Love” moment for me. It enhanced my connection to my dad’s life before he moved to the US and helped me appreciate all of the sacrifices that my grandparents (two school teachers) made in order to leave and start a new life. Three years ago, I became a mom. (Actually, my son, Miles, would be quick to remind you that he’s three and a half, so, I became a mom three and a half years ago.) My daughter, Lucy, turned one in August. In parenthood, I’ve found a renewed sense of responsibility and honor to share their heritage with them. I want them to be proud of their darker skin and hair. I want them to speak up when someone assumes something about them based on their looks. I also understand my responsibility to lead by example, especially in the face of prejudice and assumptions. The purpose of writing this during Filipino Heritage Month in 2020 is to simultaneously share a small portion of my experience with racial identity in the hope that it will resonate with others, but also to encourage readers to consider Filipino Americans and Asian Americans as a growing, contributing, wonderful group of Americans that we should be thinking about more often – both professionally and personally. I would also encourage everyone reading this to understand that you are enough. Do not shy away from your heritage. Don’t entertain the belief that you fit into just one box – learn more about where your family came from and speak up if someone doesn’t quite get it right. These conversations are lessons that I’ll certainly pass down to Miles and Lucy. Thank you for reading. I’d love to share a few resources and articles if you’re interested in more information: - Why We Celebrate Filipino American History Month (HuffPost) - Cora Cooks Pancit (Children’s Book) - Jo Koy: In His Elements (On Netflix) - Float Disney Short (on Disney+) - Raising Mixed Race (Parents Book) - Mixed in America (Instagram)
Spanning September 15 - October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the contributions, history and culture of Hispanic and Latinx communities in the United States. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to share how some of our AMPers are celebrating and what their heritage means to them. Check out what they had to say below. Shayne Ortiz, Senior Analyst “We are resilient, hardworking, passionate, caring and unified. We have heart, spirit and soul, sabor Latino. We celebrate the importance of family, tradition and most importantly the culture that continues to inspire people outside of the Hispanic/Latinx community generation after generation.” Michael Mish, SVP, General Manager “I think it’s important for all of us to appreciate where we come from. I’m proud of my Puerto Rican heritage, the family & cultural values instilled in me, and the examples of hard work, strength, sacrifice, dedication and passion that have guided me. The food and music is kind of good too :)" Sam Cabrera, Associate Director of Experience “I’m a proud daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Nicaragua. My childhood was spent with my mom’s small family here in the states for every holiday or visiting my grandparents in the summer in Guadalajara, Mx (this picture is of me by the famous cathedral). HHM is a time for me to reflect and celebrate my mixed culture, language, food, family, and music with others.” Jon Bishop, Director of Creative Technology “Family is everything. It doesn’t matter how far or how long we’re apart. My favorite memories are the food, the dancing and visiting la finca in my mom’s hometown in Puerto Rico.” Eva Parlato, Senior Art Director "There are so many things I love about being Puerto Rican, so to celebrate, I try to enjoy things like our delicious food, music, and dancing. When it comes to Puerto Ricans, where there's music playing, there are probably people dancing. And if there isn’t music playing, we'll usually bring it ourselves! Being part of a culture that is so vibrant, warm, and energetic is something I’m very proud of, but my absolute favorite thing is probably the love for dancing!" Gabe Sousa, Junior Creative Technologist “My favorite thing about being Brazilian is how friendly and welcoming Brazilians naturally are especially when we find each other outside of Brazil” Interested in working at AMP? Check out our careers page for our current openings.