At Ervin & Smith we live our mission to Create Things That Matter every day. Over the past few months, doing this in an authentic and active way has given us pause.
We wholeheartedly believe Black Lives Matter. So when the murder of George Floyd sparked important discussions across the country, we realized we had important learning to do. Pausing to reflect allowed us to see how expanding the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in our office could help us be part of creating a more just Omaha—and world.
To live out two of our core values of accountability and candor, we want to clearly outline the steps we’ve taken and the steps we’ll take moving forward to try and make our agency more equitable to all. We hope that in sharing our journey to be part of the change needed to make advertising a more welcoming and diverse industry, we can continue to learn and do better together.
Some actions and initiatives were quickly implemented:
- An internal email was sent reiterating our dedication to standing against racism and supporting inclusion and equity for all humans. We also clarified that we support our employees right to peacefully protest and share content on their own social media as they see fit.
- To support and encourage voting and volunteering, we announced that we’ll be closing the office on all Election Days moving forward.
- We will also be adding Juneteenth as a paid holiday in 2021.
- Employees were encouraged to use our reading reimbursement perk to buy books by Black authors and from Black-owned bookstores to continue important learning and support the #BlackoutBestsellerList movement.
- A group of employees formed a Diversity Roundtable to have important conversations and discuss initiatives and plans for the future.
- Our CEO Heidi Mausbach took the CEOs for CODE pledge through the Greater Omaha Chamber.
- We donated $5,000 to the Advance Omaha Fund—an initiative that raised money for local organizations that are invested in increasing diversity in creatives, marketers and developers in Omaha.
There are other initiatives and assessments happening right now:
- Reevaluating our hiring process and removing degree requirements from positions where they are not necessary.
- Reviewing our employee handbook to ensure all language and policies are inclusive.
- Exploring external options for DEI partners who can assist with training and policy review and serve as an all-agency resource.
- Our Creative Academy Days have always been about giving back locally but will put even more emphasis on connecting with BIPOC-served and led organizations.
- Five members of our team will be attending The Conference on Opportunity, Diversity and Equity.
We know that in truly striving to see change in our agency, community, and the larger industry, we need to plan for the future that furthers our longstanding commitment to growth. Diversity, equity, and inclusion will be at the forefront of our discussions, agency decisions and our strategic vision for moving forward.