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Why DEI Programs Too Often Fail and How Companies Can Respond

Alberto Jaen, the CEO and executive creative director for Plus305, and Nadja Scherrer, a partner, vice president and sustainability communications strategist within the firm, are in the business of helping organizations with purpose branding and creativity for sustainability in which value-based communication replaces, or at least complements, product-based communication.

The difference would be the emphasis one would place on the value of the written word, for example, as opposed to just the pens you manufacture. Plus305 bills itself as a social impact boutique, and one that won three awards from the American Marketing Association South Florida during the pre-COVID era: Best CSR Agency of the Year 2019, Gold for their World Aids Day MTV campaign, and Silver for their Voices for Children Foundation campaign with Peyton Witch.

Scherrer indicated several areas of vulnerability that cause DEI programs to fail, one being the discomfort that often accompanies frank discussions relative to race or gender equity, or even the discovery of our own unconscious biases.

DEI stirs up questions of identity,” Scherrer said. “And identity is almost entirely based on unconscious brain processes. Questions of identity are fundamental to how we communicate with each other. And there are layers of identity (intersectionality) which can make certain topics even more complex. Businesses have to create a culture where failure — getting it wrong sometimes — is welcome and accepted.


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