According to WPP, this new initiative is dedicated to uniting LGBTQIA+ individuals and taking responsibility for the role their creativity plays in shaping the nation's narrative.

Spearheaded by passionate individuals across the WPP network from the likes of Ogilvy, VMLY&R, Mindshare and Wunderman Thompson, the community is dedicated to uniting LGBTQIA+ employees — its allies within and beyond the organisation.
WPP South Africa, with its extensive global presence and significant impact on cultural narratives, recognises the responsibility to foster greater inclusivity and representation. WPP Unite SA aims to leverage its influence to create spaces that:
  • celebrate diversity
  • promote representation, and
  • provide support for the LGBTQIA+ community within the media landscape.

Rewarding and awarding LGBTQIA+ creativity

In partnership with renowned LGBTQIA+ watchdogs, Mamba Online and The Other Foundation, the WPP Unite Awards will be the first and only platform recognising and rewarding brands and agencies for their support of the LGBTQIA+ community across various categories, says WPP SA.

The inaugural awards, which seek to "un-stereotype" the community, will consider creative work from the last three years, followed by eligibility for work from the last year.

A mandate for unity

After almost a year of soft launches, its inaugural event in November marked the official launch of WPP Unite SA, an initiative that goes beyond activism and focuses on celebrating expression and creativity that unites everyone involved, WPP SA says. 
"We are not a fight; rather we aim to be a proactive ray of light beyond LGBTQIA+. We are naturally a diverse community coming together to unite the special textures and fibres we enrich the country with, and that extends to our beautiful differences — be it racially, culturally, across languages, age and ability," says Dono White, strategic planning director at VMLY&R and Unite SA committee member.
According to WPP SA, Tebogo Skwambane emphasises the important role of WPP Unite SA, how such a community is a vital need for the agency conglomerate and how she would not want to be anywhere else. 
Ray van der Fort, WPP SA DE&I lead and WPP Unite SA chair, says she desires to lead in shaping societal narratives, as culture is built through the stories we tell.

"WPP Unite SA goes beyond activism. It's a celebration of expression and creativity that unites us all. We want to take the lead in the stories we tell society because that is how culture is built. History is made in the present, and we want to look back on what we have put out into the world and be proud of the messages we sent," says van der Fort. 
WPP says that by bringing together diverse individuals from various companies, WPP Unite SA facilitates the connection and co-creation of solutions to challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals, using the influential power of brands. With representation from some of the world's biggest brands, WPP Unite SA aims to amplify voices and drive real change.
"Together, our voices are louder, and real change can take place," concludes Unite SA co-chair Terry Molepo and Wunderman Thompson social media manager.
Further details about the awards, including sponsorship opportunities, will be released soon, with the involvement of the South African LGBTQIA+ community as judges via Mamba Online. Should LGBTQIA+-friendly brands like to sponsor, they can reach out to [email protected].

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*Image courtesy of contributor