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A Seat at the Table: WE’s Work With The LAGRANT Foundation

WE Communications Blog: Culture & Careers

6/26/2018
— Kass Sells, Global COO/President of International 

Earlier this month, I was in New York and San Francisco with our local WE teams to celebrate the latest LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) scholarship recipients. TLF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the lack of diversity in advertising, marketing and PR. Many minority students and early-career professionals don’t have access to resources and tools that would set them up to succeed. To correct this, TLF provides scholarships, career and professional development support, mentorships and internships, and entry-level positions to undergraduate and graduate students of color.

I was honored to meet the scholarship recipients. They’re the future of our industry, and making sure their voices are heard is a win-win for everybody.

The LAGRANT Foundation and WE Communications

WE and TLF first joined forces in 2010, when our co-founder, the late Pam Edstrom, joined the board. Pam believed strongly in TLF’s mission, and when I succeeded her as a board member, I wanted to honor her belief in equality and WE’s commitment to bringing more diverse voices to our industry.

Cultivating diverse voices in PR is more than checking a box. It’s the key to offering our clients the perspective and experience they need to succeed. Our teams must reflect the makeup of our clients’ teams and, even more important, the makeup of the audiences they’re speaking to. When you see truly great creative work in our industry, chances are it came from a diverse team.

In giving undergraduates and grad students scholarships and support, TLF is helping ensure that today’s diverse students become tomorrow’s diverse account team. Some of them are already bringing their experience and knowledge to WE — three of our 16 summer interns are TLF scholarship recipients.

Amanda Lam is a TLF scholarship recipient in the Seattle office. “TLF helped me become a better strategic communicator by teaching me how to be an advocate for underrepresented communities,” she told me. “As a member of its network, I’ve also been able to build meaningful relationships with some of the best communications professionals and leaders in the industry.”

Over the history of our internship program, we’ve recruited 14 TLF scholarship recipients. A number of our former TLF interns have continued on with us as employees, and many more have gone on to careers in the communications and PR field.

Diversity and Inclusion at WE

We see TLF as a trickle-up effect. The end goal is to get more women and people of color into leadership.

In North America, more than half of WE’s leadership team is women, with people of color represented. We’d like to do better, with more diverse leadership and account teams in every office in every region, and we’re committed to getting there. We’re also involved in sponsoring ColorComm, a conference for women of color who work in communications, and we’re a signatory of PR Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Pledge. Our first employee resource group, WE Pride, is dedicated to providing resources and community to our LGBTQ+ employees and their families.

TLF is another piece of this puzzle — it’s priming the pump, making it easier for communicators from diverse backgrounds to get to their seat at the table and a voice in the creation of work for our clients. It’s part of both our purpose as an agency and our commitment to equality for all our people.