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Diversity & Inclusion: Taking pride in Austin’s welcoming atmosphere

Recently, Austin was named one of the top 10 best places for the LGBTQ+ community to live, just in time for Austin Pride this weekend. Ahead of the celebration, we chatted with members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies within the agency about what inclusivity means to them and how creativity can’t thrive without it. Keep reading to learn more about how an inclusive city and work environment makes all the difference.


Kirya Francis, VP of Diversity and Inclusion

How do you define inclusion?

I like to think of inclusion to be more like a salad. You come together as individuals and you get to stay an individual, but your presence will be missed if you are not there. 

Why is it important for a company to participate in inclusive initiatives? 

A company’s primary responsibility is to be profitable so that it can stay in business and employ talent. Inclusion makes people happier to be there, and happier people make a better product.  


Kyle Nguyen, Media Planner/Campaign Manager

How have you experienced inclusion at GSD&M?

GSD&M’s culture is inherently inclusive with participation in community events like the Allies Diversity Summit and various panels where GSD&Mers share their stories. 

How does an inclusive environment benefit the work that comes out of GSD&M?

It breaks down walls. The less time we worry about how others perceive us, the more time we have to focus that energy on actually working by bringing our authentic selves to work.


Josh Andrews, Assistant Account Manager 

Why is it important for a company to participate in inclusive initiatives?

It’s important for employees to see reflections of themselves and their identities at work. Without a place to be yourself, employees risk losing themselves to the nature of putting up a guard to those around them. 

How have you experienced inclusion in Austin and at GSD&M?

There are LGBTQIA sports teams, book clubs and even Zilker meet-ups. I’m very happy to see the solidarity of GSD&M walking in Austin’s Pride parade, so cheers to that!


Ashley Davidson, Digital Producer

How do you define inclusion? 

Inclusion is providing an atmosphere of support and involvement for all people regardless of race, religion, background, abilities, gender or sexual orientation. An inclusive environment empowers, educates and collaborates so an individual’s worth is recognized by all.

Why is it important for a company to participate in inclusive initiatives? 

Inclusivity initiatives that support all groups are important for morale, productivity, safety and community-building. You build a stronger company where people both tolerate and celebrate each other’s differences.


Ana Leen, Account Leadership

How have you experienced inclusion at GSD&M? 

Through partnering with organizations like ADCOLOR, E4Youth, Time’s Up/Advertising, Austin Pride and more, we’re both impacting and learning from our community that feeds the pipeline of creativity.

How does an inclusive environment benefit the work that comes out of GSD&M? 

We will think beyond the norm. We will come up with ideas and creative that connect with people in new ways. We will give brands the opportunity to do things differently and stand out from the competition.

Companies need to push inclusion initiatives throughout the year, not just during Pride month. While we’re lucky to live in a welcoming city like Austin, we should never take that for granted. We must continuously celebrate and advocate for inclusion to better our community, our industry and the society in which we live. It’s a disservice to creativity and culture at large if we are not including and representing all voices and speaking up for those who aren’t heard. 

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