On Monday, June 1st, Égalité ZenithOptimedia (ZO) New York, kicked off the month of Pride by hosting a successful and inspiring Career Day for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network - Optimedia’s pro-bono client since Jan ‘14). The ZO Égalité Board picked 5 bright and diverse panelists, leaders at the agency from various backgrounds, working in different departments, and challenged them to inspire a room of over 20 GLSEN students from all across the country, made up of Student Ambassadors, Student Leaders, Trans Student Rights leaders, and GLSEN New York Chapter volunteers. The panel included Franky DeJesus: Manager - Training, CSR and Inclusion, HR (ZO / Égalité National Board); Steven O’Brien: Corporate Development Supervisor, Creative (ZO / Égalité); Julia Wahl: Client Services Lead, Planning Research - Digital, LGBT Consumer Research (Optimedia); Rhonda Thomas: Sr. Broadcast Negotiator, Local TV and Radio Investments (Optimedia); and Joe Pilla: VP Social Insights, Analytics (Zenith / Égalité). David Cofrancesco and Kurt Wahlstrom, the ZO Égalité NY Leads, helped organize and facilitate the event.
Eliza Byard, Executive Director of GLSEN, kicked off the morning with some inspiring words to the students, reiterating the importance of their activism and involvement in making the LGBTQ world a better, safer place. She also spoke of how grateful GLSEN is to be partnered with Optimedia and Égalité, from securing donated media to all the BRG volunteerism and hosted events such as Career Day. Dave Ehlers, CEO Optimedia, then told his own story and introduced the youth to ZenithOptimedia’s media intern and trainee programs. He also explained the company credo of ‘Our Work, Our Spirit & Our People’ and how critically important equality, diversity and inclusion are to ZO and across all the Publicis Groupe agencies. Following his words GLSEN’s TV PSA was shown, a bold 30 second spot that addresses and illustrates LGBT bullying in schools. Optimedia worked with Viacom/Logo to create and develop the spot and have it air across the TV networks. The panelists then took the spotlight, introducing themselves and how they came to work at the agency. Amy Deneson, Marketing Communications Manager at GLSEN, moderated the session, opening up an engaging dialogue of how advertising (across Social, Radio, Digital et al.) can specifically shape cultural conversations and help create social change. The panelists also spoke about the importance of being a part of a BRG (Business Resource Group) like Égalité, and how they are comparable to and mimic the high school GSA’s (Gay-Straight Alliances) many of the students in the room lead and even founded in their schools. The kids then got the chance to ask plenty of questions of their own, and by the end of the session not only had the panelists inspired the students, but vice versa. After the panel and Q&A, everyone was given an opportunity to mix and mingle with their favorite panelists and continue their conversations, followed by a fun and fabulous interactive photoshoot with a theme of “becoming the ad you want to be.” One-on-one video interviews were also conducted.
Everyone is still reflecting on the impact and amazingness of the GLSEN Career Day, and it stirred a lot of social media buzz from all the ZO, GLSEN and student posts and shares across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond. Later that Monday evening, many of the kids (and some of ZO/Égalité) attended GLSEN’s annual NY Respect Awards at Cipriani 42nd street, where they told their own bold and bittersweet tales of LGBT bullying, in front of a large audience of corporate sponsors, educators, parents and celebrities active with GLSEN and the LGBT community.