Sussex-based Quad/Graphics Inc. and the Quadracci family’s Windhover Foundationare committing $1 million over three years to bring The BrandLab to Milwaukee, the company announced today.
The BrandLab is a non-profit dedicated to building a more diverse landscape in the marketing industry by creating opportunities for young people from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Through this partnership, The BrandLab will pair people who identify as Black, indigenous, people of color or who come from low-income families, with local agencies and companies for internship opportunities. These interns will work in roles with an emphasis on creativity and innovation and also have an opportunity for full-time jobs.
The BrandLab is already operational in Kansas City as well as Minneapolis, where the organization has already had a positive impact on Quad’s Minneapolis-based agency Periscope, said Joel Quadracci, Quad chairman and chief executive officer.
“We are committed to being a catalyst for change to advance diversity and equity in the advertising and marketing profession, because we know that our work is only our best work when it reflects different voices, mindsets, experiences and perspectives,” Quadracci said in a statement.
Quadracci estimates The BrandLab will be fully operational in one year and will likely operate from a Quad/Graphics-owned space to start. Each year, The BrandLab will relocate to a new agency or company.
The organization will start by hiring for three positions with the expectation that The BrandLab team will grow alongside the program.
Through the initiative, Quad hopes to build a robust talent pipeline for its own company. However, engaging multiple organizations in an effort to build a workforce that is reflective of the community is just as important, Quadracci said.
“Our belief is that Milwaukee has got a big issue, it’s one of the most segregated cities in the country,” Quadracci said. “To me, getting into the high schools, where The BrandLab starts, and then following (students) through, will make the whole ecosystem stronger and better for everybody. But it will take the whole ecosystem to get involved in this.”
The BrandLab says that since 2009, the organization has introduced thousands of students to creative careers and placed more than 500 interns in corporations and agencies, 90% of whom now have plans to pursue a path in the industry.
Many program participants have secured full-time positions in the field while hundreds have been paired with professional mentors who will help them navigate their professional paths, according to a press release.
According to research conducted by The BrandLab, 93% of corporations and agencies say diversifying their workforce is important to them, yet only 67% feel they have initiatives in place to expand workplace diversity.
“The BrandLab has proven, over time and in different cities, that it can help drive a meaningful difference,” Laughlin Constable CEO and president Mat Lignel said in a statement. “Its focus on high school students is the key to introducing a new generation to our industry, and our team at Laughlin Constable is committed to helping on that journey.”