The financial services industry is suffering from a severe diversity and inclusion problem. Within the Federal Reserve System alone, we have seen only one African American and seven women as presidents in its 105-year history. 2018 marked the first year in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s (FHLBC) three-year journey towards achieving its diversity and inclusion vision. Coined the “Year of Transformation,” FHLBC aimed to introduce diverse and inclusive thinking to its 500 employees and various demographic segments.
Flowers Communications Group (FCG) worked with internal groups at FHLBC to brainstorm key branding elements that authentically speak to the Bank’s vision. As a result of various sessions, BEBOLD&INSPIRE came to fruition, making a call to action for employees to be bold and inspire change to create an authentic diverse and inclusive environment.
Read on to see how the firm helped FHLBC achieve its diversity and inclusion goals and bring some balanced visibility and brand awareness to the company and industry—earning the agency a Gold Award in the “Best Diversity/Inclusion Campaign” category in Bulldog Reporter’s 2019 PR Awards.
The BEBOLD&INSPIRE campaign was created through various stages of internal brainstorming sessions in which employees at all different levels of the company were invited to take part in the ideation and development process of the branding and messaging materials. FCG also employed secondary research and case study analysis to develop a strategic approach for campaign development. Employees from different segment groups, including Employee Resource Groups, were also tapped for input.
With a goal to develop diverse and authentic concepts for BEBOLD&INSPIRE that would speak to the Bank’s employees, members and customers, the campaign team strategically engaged three of its designers, all from different cultural, generational and ethnic backgrounds, to develop unique designs and copy for the BEBOLD&INSPIRE brand family. Designers were tasked with funneling insights from the various brainstorms into their creative strategy to develop concepts that were truly representative of the Bank’s target, focusing on the Bank’s core employee resource groups: African American, Hispanic, LGBTQ, Asian, Women and the Bank’s Green Initiative. The BEBOLD&INSPIRE expression visually emphasizes the D&Iimperative, representing diversity & inclusion through bold and inspired action at the Bank.
“The process that FCG used, in partnership with the communications team at Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, was a winning combination to getting to the goal of the branding campaign,” said Christina Steed, Executive Vice President, Flowers Communications Group. “FCG participated in various brainstorm sessions with the client to source key branding elements that authentically speak to the Bank’s vision. The team also met with members of the Bank’s D&I, HR, and ERG groups to learn about the Bank’s culture and aspirational vision related to their D&I journey.”
Insights from these meetings ensured that the final creative and supporting messaging were the following:
- Culturally and ethnically representative of all employees
- Not culturally biased or offensive towards any group
- Sensitive to ideological and cultural nuances
- Authentic to Bank employees
Execution & Implementation
The agency set out to develop company-wide branding that fit into the Bank’s Diversity and Inclusion vision, supporting the thought that an inclusive culture will increase the trust and respect of employees, members and customers. To ensure authenticity in the campaign, transparency was encouraged among employees during the brainstorming process, creating a campaign that is truly representative of the people working at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.
The final execution of the campaign was brought to fruition through the following tactics:
- BEBOLD&INSPIREDay—As a kick-off to its Year of Transformation, the campaign was launched at BEBOLD&INSPIRE Day where employees were greeted with various messaging points, including gift bags with branded giveaways such as highlighters, lanyards, notebooks and buttons, which encouraged employees to spread the BEBOLD&INSPIRE message. Additional messaging points used for BEBOLD&INSPIRE Day included brand stands, television screensavers, and table top conversation starters that were placed in common areas around the Bank to spark candid conversations among employees.
- Social Media—Digital graphics were created to continue the conversation on the Bank’s social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Social graphics highlighted the Bank’s Employee Resource Groups, as well as general D&I messaging. Additionally, social templates were developed to streamline messaging across the Bank’s different communications segments.
- Presentation Templates—FCG worked with FHLBC’s Employee Resource Groups and Human Resources Department to develop presentation templates to form one cohesive brand family for the Bank’s internal and external communications presentation materials. All employees are expected to use the developed templates for all communications efforts moving forward.
“The partnership across the client, the account team and the creative team was the driver for the campaign’s success,” said Daniela Chavez Lira, Senior Account Executive, Flowers Communications Group. “With a goal to develop truly diverse and authentic concepts for BEBOLD&INSPIRE that would speak to the Bank’s employees, members and customers, FCG strategically engaged three of its designers, all from different cultural, generational and ethnic backgrounds, to curate unique designs and copy for the BEBOLD&INSPIRE brand family.”
The result that was most exciting was the launch of the campaign with the internal staff at the Bank.
“FHLBC launched the campaign with a day dedicated to BEBOLD&INSPIRE, where over 500 employees were greeted with various messaging points including television screen savers, employee resource group and general messaging signage and branded giveaways. The energy around the event with employees carried on past the launch day into meetings and decisions being made related to supplier diversity at the Bank,”saidChavezLira.
BEBOLD&INSPIRE has led to increased conversation within the Bank around D&I and has helped to change the mindset of employees to become more inclusive in areas such as supplier diversity, hiring, and recruitment. It has further set the tone for consistently leading internal and external engagements with D&I messaging, carrying out branding across multiple channels such as:
- BEBOLD&INSPIRE Day
- Employee Resource Group Events
- College Recruitment Fairs
- Human Resources Initiatives
- Internal Diversity & Inclusion Conferences
- Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s Intranet
BEBOLD&INSPIRE creative assets and supporting messaging were also developed with the intent to use throughout various communications efforts at the Bank, including Employee Resource Group events, college recruitment efforts, Human Resources initiatives, and other general internal gatherings.
Lastly, the Bank successfully achieved its Year of Transformation goals by adding 111 diverse vendors to the Bank’s vendor database, and increasing employee participating in D&I activities to 94.4 percent.
Creativity & Innovation
With an overall goal to create an authentic campaign representative of the Bank’s diversity and inclusion goals, the campaign team worked with the core individuals who spoke to the Bank’s target audience. Through the various internal brainstorms with key leaders from the Bank’s various Employee Resource Groups, FCG was able to tap into key cultural insights from an insider perspective by spending time at internal employee events, such as the first ERG Information Fair. FCG presented a spectrum of creative concepts that displayed different tones, from conservative to bold, and encouraged the communications team to align with the creative that most authentically represented where they were in their diversity journey so the spirit of the campaign would ring true with the employees.
The firm also strategically engaged diverse team members for the ideation and execution stages of the campaign to ensure that it reflected diversity and inclusion from a cultural, generational and ethnic perspective. The communications team at the Bank received buy-in from all levels within the company including the CEO before rolling out the campaign to employees.
Insights from all individuals resulted in authentic creative and messaging representative of all employees and those that the Bank aspires to hire.
Secrets of Success
Christina Steed offers the following tips that could help your firm with its next diversity-focused campaign—demonstrating why the firm won Gold in Bulldog’s 2019 PR Awards:
- Partner with the client for information-gathering and being on-site to get an understanding of the client’s office culture to tell a true branding story.
- Loop in the creative team members from the beginning of the project and not just submitting a brief for execution.
- Provide concepts that cover a spectrum from pushing the needle and being risky to being aligned to current branding to show a different perspective.