October 20, 2015

Digify – Encouraging Diversity in the Creative Sector

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Livity’s CEO Michelle Morgan talks about the importance of diversity and how the Digify programme will help boost the talent pool within the creative sector.

Imagine. Imagine an agency specialising in marketing to young people, an agency full of brilliant, diverse and passionate professionals.  Now imagine a youth club full active and curious young people, engaged with the world they live in.  Now imagine the youth club lives in the middle of the youth marketing agency… and you’re beginning to build the picture of Livity.

Livity exists to benefit the lives of young people, we do that through a marketing agency model. Creating solutions for clients such as Barclays, Google and The NSPCC – by putting young people at the heart of the process, who we mentor, support and help into their what nexts in life. We are probably the only marketing agency to employ both a youth worker and a youth progression manager.

We’ve been proving our purpose and profit model for the last 15 years and wonderfully we can feel the world catching up with us and embracing our model.

In 2011 my colleague Gavin Weale took the model of Livity UK to South Africa and quickly grew our offering in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, proving that both businesses and young people in a very different place in the world are often facing the same challenges that would benefit from some different thinking.

In 2014 Gavin observed the lack of diversity in South Africa’s agency sector and with our long term client, partner and collaborator Google, we devised an internship programme called Digify that took bright young talent living mostly in the townships, into a 3 month hot housing programme in Livity, working on real work, real briefs in real time and training them in key Google modules: search, analytics, AdWords and YouTube. Our Digifiers are then placed into pre-pledged, paid internships in Agencies.  We’ve had 100% success rate in terms of keeping our Digifiers engaged in the programme and over 80% of them are still employed in the agency sector. We will be helping to improve the ethnic diversity of the agency sector by over 10% over the next few years and through Digify we are driving the business benefits of diversity and playing a part in the innovation and evolution that the agency sector needs to rapidly address in order to service their clients needs and secure their own relevance and future.

Today I’m proud and truly excited to announce that we are launching Digify in the UK with Google’s continued support and cheerleading in this space.  And we have a new partner – The Marketing Agencies Association. An organisation leading the charge in the area of agency evolution, diversity, talent pipeline and skills gaps and needs.  By December we’ll have 10 brilliant, enthusiastic and enterprising young people onboard the Digify UK pilot and by March, they’ll be in their internships, warmed up and ready to start offering immediate value to those participating agencies. We’ll also be working out how we can scale our offering at pace, both through Digify UK and also a UK version of Digify Bytes.

So thank you Gavin, for your energy, your vision and your perseverance, thank you to Google for the ongoing belief in Livity and also that great ideas that deliver strong impact don’t always have to scale overnight. Thank you to Scott Knox and the Marketing Agencies Association for this brave and future thinking alliance and thank you to everyone involved.

Livity and Digify are wonderful examples of how we can share and transfer ideas, models and solutions from one brilliant country to another… and back again.

Michelle Morgan, Livity Chief Executive Officer, 20.10.15