Verizon’s “adfellows” initiative, a fellowship program for young and diverse talent, is an invaluable example of how big players in the marketing industry can develop an inclusive, representative pipeline of new hires.

Deirdre Robinson, Verizon’s senior director, corporate social responsibility and marketing talent development, discussed this topic in a session at Advertising Week 2020.

And the “adfellows” process, she reported, sees a diverse group of talented young people, chosen as they are “ready to make an impact in the industry”, gain a rich, immersive education in marketing over an eight-month period.

“What’s great about this program is we have the flexibility to change the rotation. If we start to see an adfellow with some skills or in a different area that maybe they had thought about, we can adjust,” Robinson said.

As a paid program that also covers the living expenses of participants, adfellows also seeks to eradicate the cost barriers associated with relocating to New York.

“We create standards and rubrics to ensure that we remove bias and create a very common, level playing field through the interview and selection process,” Robinson said.

In addition to on-the-job training, participants also learn how to address questions such as “How do you develop your brand?”, “How do you show up as a leader?”, “How do you manage conflicts and diversity?”

“We want them to have the soft skills, as well as the hard marketing skills, so that when they walk out the door, they are well-rounded, fully engaged, committed and ready to be a core part of the business,” said Robinson.

Since 2017, adfellows has nearly doubled in size, and its corporate partners now include clients like brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, consultancy Accenture, financial-services provider American Express, and retailer Walmart.

Agencies like Digitas, McCann, Momentum, R/GA and Weber Shandwick are also partners, Robinson told the Advertising Week session, which was held by the Advertising Educational Foundation (AEF), a unit of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

“Our vision is that this is not owned by Verizon. We may have started this, but our goal is to share our blueprint with anyone in the industry who shares the same goals and the same objectives,” Robinson asserted.

Sourced from WARC