The Power to Make an AMAzing Difference

By Qiana Cressman and Amanda Ward

Greetings AMA Tampa Bay Community,

As your 2021-22 president, I promise to help support and grow our AMAzing Tampa Bay marketing community. The time is now for marketers to collaborate and bring diverse voices and perspectives to the table.

I am pleased to announce that we signed a DE&I pledge along with 60 other AMA chapter leaders. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a continuous journey of growth, understanding, and learning. One of our most important goals this year is to ensure that we put a stronger emphasis on our DE&I efforts and create an organization where no one feels they are unheard.

Learn more about our DE&I efforts and discover five ways to create an inclusive environment in our first DE&I blog post entitled The Power to Make an AMAzing Difference by board members Qiana Cressman and Amanda Ward.

Hussain Shamseddine
2021-22 AMA Tampa Bay President
[email protected]

As the Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, on behalf of our AMA Tampa Bay Board Leadership team, we are excited about the commitment of the American Marketing Association to DE&I. We are unapologetically using our platform to better help individuals and companies support DE&I in the industry, beginning with centering and amplifying the voices of our black, brown, and indigenous (BIPOC) communities.

Representation matters. Diversity in the composition of nonprofit and corporate boards and leadership structure matters. Thinking independently but collectively matters – particularly by honoring the diverse perspectives, voices, backgrounds, talent, experiences, and culture of others.

Diversity: The Act of Thinking Independently Together. -Malcolm Forbes

What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you? To us it means the presence of variety, fair, quality access and treatment which helps eliminate barriers that have excluded certain people groups, and to ensure those who are diverse, feel welcomed from the majority. How do you respond, respect, or appreciate views and thinking that differs from yours? We all have the power within us to make an amazing difference by creating environments in which there is a sense of belonging, free-thinking, and unity (even when views differ) amongst others.

A Special Moment

As part of creating an environment of free-thinking and a sense of belonging for all, during our first Board Retreat on Friday, July 23, 2021 – we engaged in a powerful DE&I exercise on avoiding and navigating stereotypes and how to address them when necessary. Our time was a moment of tears, laughter, bonding and authentic conversation. We all shared from our hearts. For myself, as a Black woman, holding various leadership roles, one of the things I shared with the group is that my strength and boldness doesn’t mean I’m angry or combative. Often, women of color can face this stereotype. It felt good to embrace the compassion, appreciation and welcoming of who I am from my fellow Board Members. I love my AMAzing Tampa Bay AMA Chapter!

Five Ways to Create an Inclusive Environment

  • Start with leadership – culture shifts, and lasting change begins when top leaders value diversity. Nothing moves forward without leadership.
  • Celebrate differences – have courage to welcome differing views and beliefs
  • Form a DE&I advisory council, board, or committee or get advice from one – these governing groups should have a clear vision, direction, and measurable outcomes.
  • Apply active listening – this includes questions that demonstrate that you value, care and want to hear diverse perspectives.
  • Cast vision – positively communicate DE&I goals, strategy, and progress metrics.

Of course, there are many more ways to create an inclusive environment that creates a sense of belonging for all, but these five ways will help you, your team or governing body lay a strong foundation that creates an organization or space where no one feels they are unheard.

As Vice President of Communications, in working with our Chapter, we recognize that part of our pledge and efforts to support DE&I, AMA Tampa Bay is a commitment to increasing BIPOC representation throughout our products and services, thought leadership, campaigns, programming, and distribution networks. As marketers we could mentally tell ourselves that we will select diverse images, speakers from a variety of backgrounds and differing views as we go. But, through the discussions with our board and the DE&I exercise shared by Qiana earlier, I understand that our commitment requires planning and conscious, repeated choices to represent all people and a diversity of perspectives, voices, backgrounds, talent, experiences, and culture of others.

Our efforts include increasing diversity of voices throughout our events, blogs, social media, and emails. We will seek out speakers, authors and marketing experts that represent and value the ways we differ. We will use our platforms to create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable future. In our communications, events and experiences we will focus on making sure all feel a sense of belonging and value and that differences are welcomed.

As part of our pledge with other AMA chapters across the country we will use the power of our collective voices to outline the roles marketers can play in standing for and delivering on inclusion; the ideals, values, and principles that promote equality, respect, and unity.

Creating a more equitable future for all starts with becoming more informed. AMA Tampa Bay will ensure that our own communications and actions are at their core inclusive and free of personal, professional, or cultural bias. As we embrace a growth mindset, we look forward to sharing resources, learnings and more from AMA Tampa Bay to help you better understand DE&I and how to use your voice personally and professionally to create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable future.

The American Marketing Association’s mission is to be the most relevant force and voice shaping marketing around the world, an essential community for marketers. Within our mission is a commitment to values and behaviors in the service of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We are excited for what the future holds and how we will all work together for a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable future.

NEW NEWS, Meet Raquel!

Our volunteer team is growing! We’d like to welcome our new Senior Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Raquel Toro. Raquel is a young digital marketing professional that has recently returned to the beautiful Tampa Bay area, after being away for seven years. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to explore marketing, sales, operations, and training, which has helped mold her career path. Over the past few years of change throughout our country, she realized her true passion and calling falls under the DE&I umbrella; she’s excited to get started with this new role. Outside of work, Raquel enjoys salsa dancing, connecting with friends and going to different museums. While serving in her new AMA leadership role, she’ll work with our AMA leadership and report to the VP of DE&I.