Today, CMOs are spending more time on addressing a wider scope of organizational issues. For example, this may mean looking at how to complete a digital transformation. Or, it could involve devising new solutions that more effectively target the right audience. Finally, this action might require looking at issues that go beyond the impact they have on marketing.

Recently, Diego Scotti, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Verizon, published an article on LinkedIn entitled, “The Future of Marketing Looks Like This.”  Recently, Diego Scotti provided more context around what Verizon is doing with its AdFellows program.

Proactively Directing Change For Greater Diversity

First, Scotti noted that it is up to today’s marketing leadership to take a stance and proactively change what is not working in today’s workforce whether it is within the marketing department or across the organization. As such, Verizon started its AdFellows program to address its industry’s diversity and inclusion problem. Already, Verizon’s Board of Directors is one of the most diverse in America. And, 59% of Verizon’s workforce consists of women and persons of color. However, this trend is not industry-wide.


Diego Scotti, CMO, Verizon

Scotti explained,

As one of the country’s largest advertisers, it’s our responsibility to lead the conversation and take real action. What I mean by ‘real action’ is we are not just throwing money at the problem or doing one-off events. Instead, we are developing programs that have a long-term impact. AdFellows not only gives recent college graduates hands-on experience through different areas of marketing, but it also sets them up for permanent full-time positions. The first class of AdFellows recently finished an eight-month rotation. Now, 90% landed full-time, permanent jobs at either Verizon or our partner agencies. That’s lasting impact.”

Creating a Benchmark Program

For Verizon, developing the AdFellows program from the ground-up was critical to taking a leading role in enacting industry change. Plus, it helped reinforce the company’s own brand values. Scotti noted that there are six key elements to the program. For example, these include fair pay and paid living expenses, strong curriculum, meaningful work, mentoring and networking opportunities, rotations to explore every aspect of the business, and strong employment prospects upon completion.

As a benchmark program, AdFellows addresses one of the fundamental causes of the diversity issue. This issue involves changing the recruitment pipeline and selecting diverse candidates across the country. Scotti added, “Giving participants exposure to multiple environments through our agency partners provides a well-rounded view of the marketing industry, and enables the Fellows to really dig in and gain experience that translates into real opportunities for them.”

A Call to Action

In Scotti’s post, he is not shy about calling other CMOs to action to address the diversity and inclusion issue. In asking him what type of response he has received from fellow CMOs, Scotti replied that there was still plenty of work to do. “Our industry has a unique power to connect with people. We should be leveraging this to build a bridge for the diverse, talented voices that don’t have the credentials, resources, or networks that traditionally help people find their first jobs.”

As part of the call to action, there have been some responses. For example, ad agency partners R/GA and Moxie have joined on for the next class of AdFellows. Plus, other brands are getting involved.

Continuing to Change the Future of Marketing For the Better

Now, Scotti and his team continue to look to the future to direct where AdFellows can go in terms of changing their industry. Therefore, this involves looking at the next two to five years and even farther. Scotti stated, “After the success of this first year, we expect this program to keep growing in the years to come.”

Plans include increasing the number of AdFellows per class from 19 to 30 individuals. Next, the plan is to see how AdFellows can be replicated in other industries. Additionally, the AdFellows program has the potential to be replicated on a city basis across the country. And, since the program is being shared freely, it’s there for any other company to benchmark it. In response, other CMOs can help move the needle forward to achieve a more diverse workforce across all industries.

@steveolenski is a marketer who also happens to be among the most influential writers in the space. He’s been called The CMO Whisperer & Distiller of Truth. He’s looking for his next challenge.


Categorized in: