Creative Spotlight is a weekly feature highlighting Black creatives making trailblazing moves. In this space, your voices are heard and your hard work is celebrated. For consideration for a future feature, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Bianca Jeanty & Netta Dobbins
Age: 26 & 24
Occupation: Account Services at Turner Broadcasting & Social Strategist at Translation
Where You’re From: Maplewood, NJ & Nashville, TN
Bianca Jeanty: A Jersey girl with Haitian blood, Bianca Jeanty is a rising media maven and social connector with more than five years in advertising, business development and marketing. Starting her career as an assistant to a luxury menswear company and transitioning into the beauty industry, Bianca learned the ropes of how business really works. Now working in entertainment ad sales for Turner Broadcasting, she manages multi-million dollar advertising budgets with the likes of GEICO, Burger King and Weight Watchers on TBS and TNT.
Netta Dobbins: Prior to founding Minorities in Media Connect (MiMConnect), Netta spent three years in the public relations industry. She had the opportunity to work at the top public relations agency in New York City—Dan Klores Communications—where she worked with clients like Clive Davis, Sony Legacy Artists, PBS and more. She transitioned from the public relations world to pursue advertising in 2016. She currently serves as a social strategist at Translation where she’s responsible for identifying trends and behaviors and developing tactics to engage with the client’s target demographic through social media and social experiences. At Translation, she works on accounts like State Farm, Kaiser Permanente, Reebok, and NBA.
Netta graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in 2014 with her Bachelor’s in Mass Communications.
EBONY: What is MiMConnect and what prompted the start/idea of the brand?
Both: Minorities in Media Connect is an emerging networking platform that creates access to people of color with job opportunities, resources and a nationwide network in the media industry. With over 2,000 subscribers throughout the U.S. and Canada, we’ve built a tribe of publicists, writers, creatives and beyond, working to create more impactful and inclusive media.
MiMConnect was founded after we realized that professionals of color in the media industry lacked a space to unpack issues they faced working in predominately White companies. Starting as a GroupMe of less than 20 people, a familiar connection was built by sharing challenges of being overqualified for their current position, being overlooked for promotions, or even just struggling to find a job with a sensible cultural fit. Taking a step further, we’ve even discussed how colleagues have made unintentional racist remarks and how those mindsets can translate into the work.
We knew we had to create an outlet that provided a safe space for these professionals to not only discuss these issues but develop solutions. Taking that insight, we’ve curated programming with notable media professionals and companies to supply our audience with tangible advice and knowledge to level up professionally.
EBONY: What have you learned so far about managing a company that is tailored to people of color?
Netta Dobbins: I think what makes this job easier is that our stories are our communities’ stories as well. Being a Haitian-American and a Black American raised in the South, we’ve lived through the issues our community is bringing forth, and we’re still living through them. Managing MiMConnect really allows us to come to work as our full selves and we know what’s going to work for our community and what’s not.
Bianca Jeanty: Yes! Adding to what Netta mentioned, we also recognized that this isn’t a “race-based” business we’re in. It’s focused on perspective. While our core audience is African-American, there are similar stories you hear from professionals that identify as Asian or Hispanic and go through similar challenges. Hearing the complexities of everyone’s stories actually makes our group more inclined to listen because it resonates so closely.
EBONY: Diversity and inclusive are huge buzz words at the moment, do you think companies are honest and sincere about their diversity initiatives and hiring?
Netta Dobbins: I believe that some companies are extremely serious about it, and others are just looking to check off a box. But that’s why we’re here, we’re beginning to partner with companies that are willing to really put an action plan together on how to not only diversify their company, but retain those diverse employees. Retention is one thing Bianca and I talk about a lot. We see a lot of companies that are “diverse.” However, most of their professionals of color are in entry level or admin positions and don’t stay long enough to reach those leadership roles. Having people of color in leadership roles is the real key. That’s diversity …and those people are going to make sure your company doesn’t do something completely offensive and save you from becoming the next Pepsi or Shea Moisture.
Bianca Jeanty: Netta mentioned something extremely important about “diversity and inclusion” in larger companies. There are companies that are sincere about it. However, it’s hard to believe a company’s efforts if you only see people of color at lower ranking positions. While it’s great to get the pipeline going, retaining talent is the hard part that companies can conveniently forget about it. It’s literally like pouring water into a strainer. So the next question is “How are you being inclusive?” There’s a bigger conversation needed and a great deal of implications present when I personally see that. It’s not enough to write a Medium post about “diversity of thought.” Perspectives in the C-suite need to be challenged to move the needle.
EBONY: What advice would you give companies looking to change their status quo and hire more diverse candidates?
Bianca Jeanty: Firstly, change your thought process on what “diversity” actually means. Diversity is an asset, not just social good or a business imperative. Companies need to recognize how complex backgrounds can build the web between niche markets and create smarter and more inclusive media. Media is so powerful that it can amplify a change in perception, [both] negative and positive. That core value alone will streamline efforts that companies are looking to make.
Netta Dobbins: The first piece of advice would be to look outside of your normal avenues to find candidates. Look into alumni from historically Black colleges and into multicultural groups at predominantly White institutions. Attend multicultural events where diverse professionals will be present. Be cognizant of your search efforts in general, and know that a diverse environment (inclusive not only of Blacks and minorities but women and men too) will promote better strategic thinking.
Creating a space where these diverse candidates feel comfortable is also key. Once you’ve hired them, you need to ensure that they feel like their voice matters and there’s something they can get involved in and contribute to within your company.
Bianca Jeanty: Exactly. Minorities in Media Connect literally evolved because of these challenges that companies are having. In addition to sponsoring events that bring together quality candidates, we’re having candid conversations with companies on how we can partner on solutions together. So, please connect with us!
EBONY: What are five Goals you both would like to reach by the end of the year?
Netta & Bianca:
- Solidify MiMConnect as a primary resource for people of color in the media industry.
- Execute four nationwide MiMConnect events.
- Amplify the work of our MiMConnect family and partners on the platforms we’ve built. We actually have an interactive gallery and panel coming up with UrbnFresh and Peerspace. #peerspacerising
- Empower professionals of color to land the jobs of their dreams, all while being themselves.
- Keep these natural curls popping.
EBONY: What are five things people don’t know about you?
- I listen to EDM and Country music.
- I hate working out.
- The only candy you’ll catch me eating (and enjoying) is a blue jolly rancher.
- I have a skin condition that keeps me from using most natural oils and butters, but jojoba oil and tea tree oil have been lifesavers.
- There’s a 90% chance that you’ll always catch me in heels because I’m only 5-feet-tall.
- I’m an avid fan of Soulection Radio as of last year …Soulection 282 in particular.
- I used to roller skate in Jersey at Skate 22 like in Roll Bounce. I’m rusty.
- I’ve worn glasses since I was in the 1st grade.
- My pipe dream was to be a fashion designer.
- I’ve been in performing arts since I was 2 years old …gospel choir, dance, piano, guitar, all that!
What are these ladies up to next? Check out the flyer below and RSVP to the Rising Photo Exhibition and panel.