What started at Advertising Week last year—a movement called Creative Spirit that helps people with intellectual or developmental disabilities enter the advertising and marketing workforce—moves to the main stage at this year’s Cannes International Festival of Creativity. As Creative Spirit’s Co-Founder and President, OMD CMO Laurel Rossi sees the move to Cannes as a sign of real action rather than just more talk about workplace diversity.
“We do talk as an industry a lot about what it means to have diverse kinds of thinking in our organizations. But the actual action of bringing people with diverse thought to the table is really what I’m hoping comes to light,” Rossi says in this interview with Beet.TV.
On Thursday June 21, Rossi will take to the Palais 1 dais along with two beneficiaries of Creative Spirit so they can explain how they were recruited and hired into positions that leverage their oft-hidden talents, and how they approach briefs and challenges in a different way. The session is titled How Different Can Change The World.
“There are about 10 million people in the States alone who have an intellectual and developmental disability who are in the hiring age frame. And those people by and large are not employed,” says Rossi, placing the jobless rate at 85%. “We know that neuro-diverse thinkers have the opportunity to help companies grow their return three and four fold.”
Even though progress has been made in diversifying the makeup of the advertising and marketing world, the major exception has been people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, according to Rossi.
“So it’s been a passion point for me to reality think about neuro diversity, not just diversity as a topic, because we’re in the thinking business. When I look at folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities, they really do bring a different strain of creativity to our business.”
On the heels of a pilot program in Australia, Creative Spirit was unveiled in the U.S. at Advertising Week 2017. On stage were young adults in a number of disciplines—from coders to art directors, writers to receptionists—who had not had the opportunity interview for advertising or marketing jobs.
“From that moment, we received a groundswell from both clients and agencies around how I can bring that creative thinking to my organization,” Rossi says. “I set out with some partners on a mission to really bring that kind of neuro diversity to the marketing and advertising business, which is now expanding beyond to technology and other organizations.”
She’s hoping the conversation in Cannes is eclipsed by action.
“We see more sponsors and more organizations signing on and I also hope that our candidates have an opportunity to have the main stage for once.”
This video is part of The Road to Cannes, a preview of topics to be addressed at Cannes Lions. The series is presented by the FreeWheel Council for Premium Video. For more videos from the series, please visit this page. FreeWheel is a Comcast company.