Goodby Silverstein & Partners has hired Jennifer Gomes as the agency’s head of equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Gomes brings significant experience to the position, with nearly two decades in various roles. Most recently, Gomes was the founder and CEO of Positioned, a consultancy that developed, supported and empowered women of color in leadership positions. Additionally, the practice partnered with companies looking to operationalize DEI efforts.
“We’re cultivating a place where people do work that moves people and reshapes culture,” said Derek Robson, GS&P partner and president, to whom Gomes will report. “To that end, our staff and work need to reflect the world around us.”
The move comes as agencies continue to forge pathways for greater equity and build better representation on their teams.
“We can see from statements that came out this summer and through conversations that you have leadership wanting to improve,” Gomes said. “The extent to which they know how to do that, I think it varies from company to company.”
With a view of having a more significant impact beyond her previous company, Gomes looked to advertising as an industry with ample opportunity, especially since its work can create and promote culture. Related to GS&P, Gomes noted that the two co-founders, Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein, continue as active participants in day-to-day operations.
“It’s a special place, and [Goodby and Silverstein] have a pulse on what’s happening in the company,” noted Gomes. “It also means that they can be honest about the struggles, articulate what they’re doing really well, and [acknowledge] where they need to get better. Their humility, that honestly was really appealing to me in the process.”
Gomes plans to spend the first three months fully immersing herself in the agency’s culture and people. In the fourth month, she expects to present her findings and identify trends about what the agency values in its culture. Shortly thereafter, Gomes believes that initiatives can take deeper root, including looking more closely at the agency’s annual survey focused on the employee experience.
“Some things [in the survey] get to the heart and minds of how people feel at the agency,” Gomes said. “I would want to see a noticeable shift in how people articulate their feelings of belongingness, of being heard, seen and supported.”
Over the past several months, GS&P creatives have addressed racism in public ways with the “Not a Gun” and “Not a Crime” campaigns with the Courageous Conversations Global Foundation. Additionally, the First Responder Twitter bot was created early in the Covid-19 pandemic to counter racist tweets at and about Asians and Asian Americans. While these efforts are welcome, the San Francisco market can be challenging for talent.
“Every market has its barriers,” Gomes said. “The cost of living there is obviously one of those, and we’re going to have to reimagine how we think about talent. The monetary piece is real. One of the things that we talk about in DEI is resources. You can profess what you want to do, but providing resources demonstrates what’s important. From conversations so far, it is important to GS&P.”