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HACE Leadership Summit 2023 – from the Headturn Lens.

Headturn was at the HACE UNITED Annual Leadership Summit last week to celebrate the programs, people and partnerships of the HACE familia – and their transformative impact on the community. This year’s theme “Accelerating equity with action and accountability” is extremely timely and relevant in the current socio-economic climate, as we experience tectonic shifts in the workforce. Our team had the opportunity to hear from panels of DEI trailblazers and capture their perspectives through our lens.

Here’s the scoop on the learning-packed, two-day conference – brought to you by our visual storytellers and aggressive note-takers (thank us later).

Be a good troublemaker.

In contrast to the “keep your head down and work hard” advice that we grew up with, it was super empowering to hear the words: “Be a good troublemaker.” While the DEI responsibility sits with every part of an organization, the speakers urged those in a position of power to use their voice and disrupt the status quo. The room erupted in snaps in response to: “Have a perspective and be LOUD about it” and once again to the appeal: “If we don’t do it, no one else will.”

Express your authentic self.

We all have many layers of identity, and bringing our whole authentic self to work and other spaces is essential to our mental health and wellness. However, the ability to be “authentic” depends on several factors such as the environment, people and workplace culture. The panel not only recognized the responsibility that lies with organizations, but further challenged them to consider: “Are we creating a successful environment for ALL people to thrive?” and “ Does it inspire employees to come as they are?”

On an individual level, instead of viewing our identity as something that needs to be hidden – to assimilate, we were inspired to see our intersectionality as a superpower. One piece of advice we found incredibly valuable was to “bring people along in your journey.” The more context coworkers and friends have to our life, family, culture and values – the easier it is to be our authentic self with them.

Leverage your story, identity and experiences.

We enjoyed exploring the role of media and storytelling in advancing DEI, and reflecting on questions like: “What are the stories of today?” and “How are they covered?” The panel talked about the ripple effect of stories, and how it can be a great tool to create and communicate impact. As creative storytellers, we’ve always believed that stories can help people find common ground. Through the discussion on ‘stories as a medium to express vulnerability,’ we learned that while relatability can be an outcome, so can discomfort — and that’s OK.

Don’t be a part of performative DEI.

There are organizations that jump on DEI because it’s good press. They are also the same ones that cut back on DEI initiatives at the first sign of an economic slowdown. Performative DEI not only slows down the real work put in by minorities and organizations – it gets in the way of the equitable society we’re trying to build for future generations. These insights showed us how important it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and not comply with performative initiatives.

Use data to drive DEI.

The panel also talked about the business imperative for DEI, and how we can use data to measure impact, build a case for continued investment and ultimately close equity gaps. The importance of setting serious goals, and looking at qualitative data alongside quantitative data while designing strategies was iterated. We couldn't agree more! Sitting down with people for a conversation and getting first-hand insights can paint a picture in a way numbers can’t. From an accountability standpoint too, data ensures that the ‘DEI promise’ is translating to ‘DEI practice.’

Be a real ally.

What does it mean to be an ally? The word has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, but do we really know how to be one? We discussed empathy, the ability to step into others' shoes – as an essential quality for allyship. Within the context of minority groups and organizations, it’s all the more crucial that we recognize our commonalities, represent each other and proactively remove barriers. To accomplish that, the panel shared their ideas of creating judgment-free spaces where people can ask questions, mess up and learn how to be a real ally.

There are many takeaways from this summit, but the greatest of them all is the camaraderie and shared mission to lift as we climb. We congratulate our partners at HACE and the Mujeres de HACE community for their incredible impact in the DEI space. Headturn is honored to be part of the HACE familia, and excited to continue telling the stories that matter.

Headturn Creative is a 100% minority-owned creative agency that aspires to turn the spotlight on Latino-owned businesses and the amazing work they do. We empower businesses to represent themselves authentically and take up space – online and everywhere.

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