CINCINNATI (June 18, 2021) – In the last 12 months, Connie Ross spearheaded and implemented transparent listening sessions, an agency-wide implicit bias training, facilitated a plan for media-supplier diversification, launched a DEI speaker series and an Empower the Vote initiative while identifying creative ways to support minority owned businesses, AAPI and LGBTQ+ with the agency’s window art. Visit https://www.empowermm.com/dei/ to view all of the action taken within the past year, results to date and future commitments.
Empower CEO Jim Price says, “Connie Ross takes a media-focused approach to DEI efforts as much as she does the cultural and talent piece. This allows us to effect change inside the agency, but also the industry as a whole. While we know there is still a lot of work to be done and always room for improvements no matter how many strides we make, I am very proud of the wave of efforts Ross has made in a tumultuous year.”
Around this time last year, following the murder of George Floyd and nationwide social unrest, Empower CEO Jim Price publicly addressed the need for dedicated DEI efforts head-on: “We have a race problem that is front and center for all the world to see. And as a country and community we have to own it.” He promised to share an action plan within one week. On June 11, 2020, Price rolled out a three-step plan and appointed Connie Ross as DEI Chair where she formed an advisory board and sub-committee.
“The DEI Board serves as the moral and social compass of the agency beyond executive leadership,” explained Ross. “DEI-focused solutions are not only meant to impact the makeup and culture of Empower but serve as an agency model for the industry as a whole.”
With nearly 10 years’ experience working at Empower in search marketing, Ross was compelled to help shape Empower’s future for generations to come. The drive for change is in her DNA. Ross’s mother was the first African American Female to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives. She was also the longest serving African American female.
“My parents were both politicians thrust into it because they saw the community in which we lived under-represented,” Ross explains. “My father was a postal worker with no college degree who simply got fed up with seeing the neglect and, often, destruction of communities of color in Cincinnati. My father ran for State Representative of the 25th House District of Ohio and won. At the age of three, I had the privilege of sitting in the Chamber of the Ohio House and watch first-hand how democracy works and how one person can make a difference.
My father passed away while serving in his third term. Not wanting to see his legacy and work end, my mother stepped up. A working single mother of three, she was told by everyone she should pass the torch to a man with experience in politics. There were no African American females in the Ohio House of Representatives. Nevertheless, my mother persisted and was appointed to take over my father’s term. She went on to win re-election four times,” Ross proudly stated.
Taking these values and work ethic to heart, this experience inspired her to launch the “Empower the Vote” initiative to encourage every single employee to vote and make it easy for them to cast that vote – instituting a no meeting policy on election day.
“As my father used to say, it’s the one day your actions can truly lead to meaningful change for the better,” she said.
Soon enough, it was clear Ross and agency leadership wanted to turn her commitment to DEI at Empower into a full-time position in order to move the needle and scale agency-wide efforts for change. It’s paying off. 30% of 2021 new hires to-date are racially and ethnically diverse, up from 18% in 2019. As Empower closes its offices on Friday June 18 in honor of the Juneteenth holiday held on Saturday, June 19, all 200+ employees will be exposed to the progress made to date featured on the agency’s DEI webpage. It also serves as a destination for accountability and future commitments.
We are Empower, The Un-Holding Company. Our advantage is simple. Clients first – not shareholders.
From the day we opened our doors in 1985, Empower has challenged the media status quo.
Empower is recognized as one of the top independent agencies by Campaign US, a two-time Ad Age Agency A-List Standout (2021 and 2019) and was crowned MediaPost’s 2016 Media Agency of the Year.
Our integrated team of experts in Media, Creative, Analytics, and Word-of-Mouth Marketing outperform expectations. Celebrating two Adweek Media All-Stars back-to-back while also being honored by the Webby Awards, The One Show and ANA REGGIE Awards proves the eclectic talent at Empower is no one-hit wonder.
Empower’s client and employee tenure rate is unmatched – 3X the industry average. Some of our biggest fans include Tempur Sealy, Fifth Third Bank, Gorilla Glue, TriHealth, Brooks Running, Jack Link’s, V-Tech, Bush Brothers, Wendy’s, GNC, Famous Footwear, Ashley HomeStore, Rust-Oleum, The Body Shop, RoC Skincare and Newell Brands.
Empower is headquartered in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of downtown Cincinnati. Our Chicago office is located in the city’s bustling River North neighborhood, just steps from the Merchandise Mart.
While much has evolved in our 35-year history, we remain independent with plenty of hustle…