‘Communication from everyone for everyone.’ That’s the motto of agency Hammerfest, which provides content and creates campaigns for brands on social media. The agency, founded by Baba Touré and Guy Lokhoff, sells inclusive communications and aims to contribute to a socio-cultural balance in the media and communications industry. Amsterdam – Divers & Inclusive spoke with Baba Touré, Managing Director.

“Brands and agencies must change to remain relevant in an increasingly diverse society. Hammerfest’s expertise can lead to more effective social communication. Clients like Videoland or the City of Amsterdam see our added value: our workforce is diverse and a good reflection of the urban population.”

Baba Touré, Managing Director Hammerfest

Six years ago, Touré and Lokhoff – friends since high school – founded Hammerfest. Both have a parent with a non-Western migration background. Perhaps this played an unconscious role in their desire for Hammerfest to have a social impact on the communications and advertising industry. More and more, that unconscious desire developed into a conscious advocacy for diversity and inclusion. “Advertising is about creating perspective and therefore must be inclusive,” Touré believes. “Then it is necessary to bring together as many perspectives as possible within the company. We therefore have a great diversity of colleagues with very different backgrounds. They come from the more creative corner or have a marketing background. We have colleagues from non-Western cultures and some colleagues are LGBT people. There is also a balanced male-female ratio within our company.”

For Touré, being a good and inclusive employer means an ongoing process of culture change. An employer should realize that employees are always propagating diversity and inclusion, consciously or unconsciously. As an employer, you have to take that into account in your personnel policies. Someone from a non-Western migration background will be more concerned with diversity through personal experiences. Touré’s experience is that for many candidates, diversity and inclusion is already a theme during job interviews. This is a concern for employers.

“Inclusive employment also means that the company is responsible for treating each other with respect. It is also important that the employer stimulates conversations about diversity and inclusion during consultations and meetings and provides space for debates about, for example, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and what role the company has in it.”

Touré realizes that promoting diversity and inclusion can be difficult for companies, especially if that topic is not part of their core business. One must always keep asking how diversity and inclusion can be included in growth plans and work processes…. Hammerfest itself also has to deal with this. Touré: “In terms of age diversity, we still need to take a step. We have yet to create job profiles for people who have extensive work experience. We are already taking care to include perspectives of older professionals when working with partners.” (See also Question of the Month for May/June). Being a good and inclusive employer remains a process of culture change for all companies.

Touré, also as a board member of VEA (the trade association of top-ranking communications consultancies in the Netherlands), believes the communications industry needs to reform. “It’s about talent search and recruitment, for example. There is often a narrow view of diversity and inclusion in our industry. Certain training and qualifications are considered cutting edge. In doing so, people forget that many talented people do not always have the privilege of certain education. However, entrepreneurs do not always have to already demand the highest level of employees upon entry, but can also choose to invest in the development and growth of their employees. Let’s do the right thing, dare to stick your neck out.”

Baba Touré hopes that, partly because of Amsterdam – Diverse & Inclusive, companies in his industry will begin to seriously reflect on their course of action. Sharing best practices, individual advice and interviews on approaches to diversity and inclusion in other companies are useful and necessary for this purpose.

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