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A Conversation with OOH UNITED Co-Chairs Candice + Marc

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OOH UNITED, the industry alliance between Geopath, OAA, and the Digital Signage Federation, is orchestrating a special lounge at this week’s GO OOH Media Conference and Expo for individuals to connect, collaborate, and create change by taking the OOH UNITED pledge.

Formed last year to advance DEI throughout the OOH industry, the alliance fosters a culture that advocates for diverse talent and accelerates growth through strategic initiatives free from individual bias, competition, and organizational objectives.

OOH Today recently sat down with co-chairs Candice Simons and Marc Fenty to get a sneak peek behind the curtain.

What are you most proud of accomplishing in your first year as an OAAA program?

Throughout the first year as an OAAA program, we’re most proud of laying down the foundation and framework for moving the OOH UNITED initiative from ideation toward action. It has been inspirational to see all industry veterans and trade organizations come together to move the needle on diversity collectively and under the same umbrella.

Despite OOH UNITED being reasonably young, we will be moving into phase two after the conference, where we will be honing in on the long-term goals and a three-year action plan to create a more inclusive industry. There is a lot of work to do, but we are ready with everyone from suppliers, agencies, advertisers, and vendors coming together.

How would you rate the OOH industry’s current diversity?

Out-of-home suffers from a lack of minority representation, particularly among the c-suite, a largely homogeneous group. As an industry, our work and the audiences we reach are incredibly diverse. We must promote and reflect that same diversity within our professional communities. OOH will gain significant growth with industry-wide DEI commitments from individuals and organizations. The authenticity and relevance of our business are critically dependent on having diverse perspectives and experiences shaping workspaces.

What is your vision for creating a more diverse and inclusive OOH industry?

The vision of OOH UNITED fosters a culture that advocates for diverse talent and accelerates growth through strategic initiatives free from individual bias, competition, and organizational objectives. The pillars of OOH United are the foundation for achieving our vision. Each of the letters within United represents a different strategy to improve DEI within the industry. We’ll be working closely with diversity specialists to create and implement the tactics to reach our overarching goals. Our goal is to create more colorful boardrooms by reshaping the succession trajectory within our organizations.

We strive to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups and create safe spaces within our organizations. The continued growth, the share of ad spend, and relationships with our stakeholders will thrive as an outcome directly correlated to improved diversification.

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How are you collecting your diversity data?

Now that OOH UNITED has re-packaged, re-branded, and re-launched, we will be working alongside our partners at Diverse and Engaged to collect more robust diversity data to track long-term KPIs and short-term goals.

Are you looking at diversity among the higher ranks in OOH? And if so, what responses are you receiving from leadership with regards to creating more diversity among the ’higher ranks’?

We’re currently looking at diversity at every level. We want to increase the diversity pipeline entering out-of-home and provide mentorship for career development and succession into the ‘higher ranks’. We’ve received tremendous support from the higher ranks at some of the top agencies in the industry with matching commitments from vendors and suppliers accordingly. The response and excitement has been truly inspiring to see.

Sponsors of the OOHU experience at the conference are as follows: – Horizon Media – Dentsu – Kinetic Worldwide – Rapport Worldwide – PMX – JCDecaux – Hivestack – New Tradition – Adkom We are still looking for additional support during the show and beyond. If there is interest, please reach out to getinvolved@oohunited.org.

What steps can companies take to increase diversity and foster a more inclusive environment?

Companies should begin to look internally at current commitments around DEI to establish goals and KPIs individually – aligned with the industry. Fortune 500 advertisers are demanding transparency and looking to their partners to also support diverse businesses. DEI is a growth strategy. If you do not have a DEI strategy, you do not have a growth strategy. It is vital that out-of-home is on board with what our clients are asking for and deliver.

At the conference, we will provide resources for companies while reinforcing the case for DEI in OOH. Ideally, we will walk away from Marco Island having secured long-term funding and commitments from our agency partners, vendors, and suppliers to support this vital industry-wide program for the next three years and beyond.

 

The OOH UNITED experience will transcend the lounge to the workshops and main stage at the conference, with topics such as:

  • The demands for more diversity and inclusion in advertising
  • The accountability in diversity & inclusion initiatives that is driving change
  • The mutual commitment to diversity & inclusion from clients
  • The “Great Resignation” and workforce diversity inside OOH
  • The stakeholder population and consumer reach outside of OOH
  • AND how to become a better ally

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