Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Media Pride: Chris Kenna, Founder & Chairman, Brand Advance Group

With the launch of NDA’s Media Pride, we talk to leaders across the industry to understand the opportunities and challenges within our industry’s LGBTQIA+ community, kicking off with Chris Kenna, Founder & Chairman, Brand Advance Group.

What is the biggest challenge for members of the  LGBTQIA+ community in the digital industry and how is it being overcome?

The biggest challenges that I have faced personally and have witnessed others face are around Company Policy – does the company facilitate ‘Same-sex Parental Leave’, ‘Gender Reassignment Surgery’, and many other requirements for the LGBTQIA+ community members that companies may not have thought through or put a policy in place for yet.

Alongside this there is a very performative asp[ect to the ad industry when it comes to LGBTQIA+. It is celebrated, all agencies change logo colours and attend pride marches.  However, spend within the community media is not where it should be. Agencies ensuring its embedded as a Consumer Group rather than a nice to have is not yet commonplace.

What three things could employer companies do to make the digital industry better for the  LGBTQIA+ community?

Three things companies within the industry can do to make a more inclusive workforce are:

1.  Check policy and procedure – ensure its fair to all within the community and make the changes needed.  Tell everyone and the industry about these changes.

2. Stick your job ads outside Linkedin and within Community Press so the community can know the job exists and come join our industry.

3. Ensure you as a leader encourage as many within your senior leadership teams to become Advocates for the community not just an Ally.

Allies tell you they support you, Advocates ‘Show You they support you’ 

What impact can a more inclusive approach to LBTQ+ communities in our industry have on society as a whole?

Advertising shapes society – its a big statement but I truly believe this – and if thats the case then the industry itself should reflect society.

Lets work to ensure all members of the LGBTQIA+ community feel welcome and more importantly valued within the industry – tell our stories – show our work – stand proud with us as Advocates for the community.

As we stood shoulder to shoulder for BLM, stand proud with LGBTQIA+. If you see or hear inappropriate phrases or  conduct, even a silly joke with ‘Thats Gay’ in it!   Call it out – make it stop.   It’s insignificant to you but it’s major to us!   

What support structures and organisations are most important and effective to the  LGBTQIA+ community  in the digital industry?

Outvertising is a great support structure for LGBTQIA+ people in the industry. Alongside support from companies themselves.  Support is Leadership Checkins – Culture Checks from HR level – ERGs and support within your teams and company wide.

Support is you ! asking your LGBTQIA+ colleagues  “Are You Ok”.

How effective are trade bodies, industry awards, and the industry press at supporting and promoting  LGBTQIA+ inclusivity? 

Trade Bodies are not bad, the effort is there but always more can be done.   Rarely do I  hear of roundtable discussions with different communities to discuss issues faced and how to fix them.

Industry awards tend to be LGBTQIA+ awards that have one for Advertising.  rarely the other way round in my experience.

Industry Publications and Platforms  is where i give a shoutout to. This initiative for one but also The Drum Pride Parties all year and people like Imogen Watson telling our stories and many others including yourself Justin.   

Without question the most supportive for the LGBTQ+ community in the industry right now is the industry press.

Lets hope the rest catch up !