Creating the World We Want, Together – The 3% Conference

This is one in a series of blogs about our attendance at the 3% Conference, a gathering of marketing professionals designed to help attendees explore how to create a more diverse and inclusive world — starting with the creative marketing orgs we belong to.

When I joined Procore in December 2019, I was happy to see a strong Inclusion and Diversity program already at work. Between that and the longstanding Procore.org group and employee volunteer motions, it was easy to see that the company had been deeply committed to its vision to improve the lives of everyone in construction from the get-go.

So, it was natural to send a few of our marketing creative folk (designers, writers, and filmmakers) to this year’s virtual 3% Conference with the aim of broadening our perspective within our disciplines and expanding our networks. The conference was originally started when one of its founders, Kat Gordon, noticed how few women had been promoted within ad agencies to the creative director ranks. Today, while the number of female creative directors has grown, there is still work to be done. And the same is true in consideration of representation of people of color.

With that in mind, a few of our creative folks spent a few days in late July attending keynotes, breakout sessions, and more at this year’s 3%. In the first of a series of blogs, here are just a few observations from our delegation.

-- Malachy Walsh
Executive Creative Director

Art Director

Until The 3% Movement came along, only 3% of all U.S. Creative Directors were women. And very few were people of color. The group’s mission is to change the ratio and bring more diversity to creativity, because the more varied the people who come up with ideas, the better the ideas will be.

The main focus of all of the sessions I attended were discussions around what companies should be doing right now for their employees in relation to the COVID-19 global pandemic and increased social justice movements.

Presentations on corporate social justice covered everything from having a vision for a more just society to building working groups that represent all stakeholders and taking a stance.

I also attended the Wellness Pillar keynote with the Director of Global Awareness at Adobe. The focus of her talk was helping all employees live mentally healthier lives.

All of these conversations mirrored those we’ve been having within Procore. In fact, after day one of the 3%, I had a new appreciation for the company and my team. During the pandemic, our leadership team has not only encouraged employees to take care of themselves and their families, but they have also made clear that our mission to “Improve the lives of everyone in construction” -- which has been part of the company’s DNA since the beginning -- has real meaning in our Inclusion & Diversity programs at Procore.

Certainly, it’s clear we all have a lot more work to do, but it was good to see so many people and organizations already on the path to better.

KYLE SEIBEL (he/him)
Senior Copywriter

My personal philosophy for producing great creative work is this — every idea, no matter how good, can always be made better by help from other people. Recently, I've realized that this is something I talk about regularly, but selectively practice. It’s just one of the realizations I had during the 3% Conference.

Being a white male, I'm a recipient of the kind of privilege this conference is meant to address, so I took it as an opportunity to hear perspectives wildly different from my own. I was initially struck by the scope of the vision behind the conference. This wasn't about shortcuts or quick fixes. In a session titled “Building a Better Tomorrow Through Inclusive Technology,” Brenda Wilkerson said something that stuck with me, "Change happens when we change our normal, so we have to redefine what normal is. We need to challenge what we’ve come to expect and move toward a mindset that is more inclusive."

In the same session, Jennifer Risi made this challenge, "How much more is there to a person when we remove the constraints of business-as-usual?"

The conference left me with a truth that is as inspiring as it is uncomfortable—that radical change is possible, but it is certainly not inevitable. I learned that this kind of generational change requires a reexamination of traditions and norms. The conference presented a vision for what our future could look like. It is the kind of creative industry I want to be a part of and certainly worth the work to make better.

Associate Creative Director

The session I found to be so impactful at the 3% Conference was called "Radical Inclusion" which was a panel discussion between four Black directors from Salesforce (Director of Program Management at Salesforce, Director of Customer C suite marketing brand partnerships, Lead Designer on Salesforce experience team, and a Director of Research & Insights).

What does it mean to have "inclusive creative?" And why does it matter? These questions were at the center of the “Radical Inclusion” session and brought up the issue of the difference between universal design vs. inclusive design, and how intentionality has to be present in finding solutions and approaches for a diverse audience. This session had a pointed turn when a Lead Designer who identied as a Black queer man started seeking out mentors. The lack of diversity within the design ranks, however, meant he did not see himself reflected back. The resulting feeling of isolation in his design thinking and approach was an added challenge to every design problem he was faced with.

On the topic of what changes need to be made by a company to ensure that creative and marketing is inclusive: We need to lead by example to educate by telling stories that are inclusive, and in order to tell inclusive/diverse stories, you need to have an inclusive department.

Building Teams to Think Differently. If diversity of thought leads to more innovative solutions, being more intentional about the teams you build becomes key. In fact, hiring for diversity shouldn't be thought of as a negative but as a positive and crucial way of embracing diversity of thought.

The worst thing you can do is hire for diversity, then expect people to think the same way. Even the idea of "hiring for culture"---what does that mean? Are you hiring people that look like you and talk like you? The more you have people that don't look like you (age, race, location etc) the more you open yourself to the possibility of ideas you never even thought of. What opportunities are we missing if we're not creating a space with different opinions. That’s why it’s important to see that people are change agents and so creating seats at the table for everyone is critical.

This is just one in a series of blogs about Inclusion and Diversity and the 3% Conference. To learn more about how Procore is committed to Inclusion and Diversity in our industry, register for the Groundbreak Premium Pass experience and check out how we’re helping move the industry forward.