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Open Perspectives: Our collective journey to an equitable future

As an industry, we have a great responsibility to ourselves and our community to build trust with consumers and make systemic changes to support a more inclusive future.

Microsoft Advertising has been with our clients on their inclusive marketing journeys for years, and in September 2020 we launched the Marketing with Purpose Playbook, which encapsulates strategies for inclusive marketing and the other two building blocks of trust, responsibility and values. The playbook features actionable tactics, research, and insights designed to empower all types of marketers to start their Marketing with Purpose journeys.

Microsoft Advertising’s Open Perspectives is a global virtual event series exploring principles of diversity, inclusion, equity, and inclusive marketing through deep and candid dialogue. In the Open Perspectives platform, we help marketers create a more inclusive marketing approach. We gather industry and community leaders, scholars, and influencers to lead conversations on how inclusion drives business impact and discuss relevant issues and challenges in the industry that we all face, with exploration into the experiences of underrepresented communities and their allies.

Open Perspectives is a conversation open to everybody across the globe. While the conversations topics and live broadcast are optimised for a specific region, viewers should feel inclined to tune into to all the episodes on the topics most relevant to them.

In 2020, we have delivered virtual engagements across Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA), and the Americas; with APAC engagements in 2021. While a global series, Open Perspectives local editions reflect the regional landscape of global themes:

2020 Open Perspectives

Open Perspectives Unplugged
Open Perspectives
Our industry in action (November 2020)

2020 Virtual Events

Read more below about our range of virtual Open Perspectives events.

Open Perspectives in EMEA

In EMEA, we’ve chosen to unplug and not record Open Perspectives, hence Open Perspectives Unplugged. The virtual events were not recorded as we wanted to highlight the importance of the conversations in the moment by interacting with the audience and creating a feeling of togetherness. The only way we documented the content is through “graphic recordings,” which were published in the blog summaries of each event (see below for an example).

Open Perspectives Unplugged aims to inspire the audience to reflect on their everyday life, see gaps in terms of inclusion, and take action to help make our world more inclusive. For the EMEA region, we selected to organise the virtual event series and discuss the implications of five (non-exclusive) mindset shifts that every brand can make in order to become more inclusive.

  1. People want inclusion — not just to be included.
  2. People want equitable experiences- not just compliance.
  3. People want positive-impact products — not cheap, unsustainable ones.
  4. People want brands that take a stand, not just play it safe.
  5. People want the truth.
Graphic illustration from virtual event, titled 5 mindset shifts every brand can make.

The “graphic recording” of our Five mindset shifts every brand can make event.

The power of inclusive marketing

Being truly inclusive means matching the needs, wants, values, and variations of human diversity. It’s about understanding what matters to people, and what that one individual person needs or cares about, not just creating an ad that looks like them.

MJ DePalma, Head of Multicultural and Inclusive Marketing, Microsoft Advertising

We celebrated the kick-off of the series with a round of Microsoft experts to set the scene for the five mindset shifts. Panelists included Sandro Odak (Xbox Communications Lead for DACH), Hector Minto (Accessibility Evangelist, Microsoft), MJ DePalma (Head of Multicultural and Inclusive Marketing, Microsoft Advertising and author of Inclusive Marketing: Five mindset shifts every brand can make), and Kelli Kemery (Lead Market Research, Microsoft Advertising). In the kick-off, they discussed the trend of more companies proactively engaging in inclusive marketing campaigns, however, it was noted that most companies are still hesitant. Kelli pointed out that this is due to the fear of getting it wrong and alienating customers. She highlighted that with supporting resources, such as the Marketing with Purpose Playbook, one can receive guidance to make the first step in their inclusive marketing journey and be made aware of potential pitfalls to avoid. Especially the importance of authenticity was pointed out: truly incorporating inclusive values in one’s own company culture and mission is key to success.

A stellar example is the Xbox Adaptive Controller’s packaging. The controller enables gamers with limited mobility to enjoy gaming just like everyone else. Thinking holistically, Xbox made the packaging easily accessible for the gamer who would later enjoy the Adaptive Controller. Hector Minto added that it is important to see accessibility as an opportunity rather than a risk. Breaking out of convention by taking a risk to be more inclusive, transparent, and authentic can be the biggest reward yet for your brand.

For more details, please read the event summary.

People want inclusion — not just to be included

In our second installment of Open Perspectives Unplugged, we dove into the concept of inclusion and inclusive marketing, asking what it means for a brand to be truly inclusive. We were joined by international panelists Dorcas Matomby (Account Executive, The Fourth Angel), Peter Cooper (Senior Marketing Segment Manager, Microsoft), Laura Collins (Head of Media, Merkle, winner of the Microsoft Advertising Global Inclusive Marketing and Culture Partner Award), and Frederike Probert (CEO and Founder, Mission Female).

Being truly inclusive inside-out can be a big challenge for brands but, in this panel discussion, we found out it can be equally rewarding. In light of Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and Pride Week, consumers are becoming more conscious of the brands from which they buy, as well as brands’ missions. It’s expected for brands to practice what they preach and act with integrity by not just being inclusive in their advertisements, but also properly living and breathing inclusion throughout their businesses. According to Frederike, companies that genuinely engage in inclusion are more successful as consumers recognise their authenticity and choose them over other brands. Equally, inclusive company cultures cater for more employee engagement. Peter warned that brands who ignore certain groups are missing out on lots of customers. He called on brands to “do their research and understand their target group, especially in the tech industry as new technologies are made for all people; all age groups.”

But where does a brand start? All speakers were aligned in saying that the responsibility to collaborate is spread across all hierarchical levels. To create a more diverse and inclusive work culture, there needs to be structure as well as strategy but, as Laura recognised, passion is key: “If you can find passionate people in your organisation…and take advantage of the kind of things you can do without a budget, like educational or networking events.”

Allyship, the ability to question the status quo and actively try to improve things for people around us, was also highlighted in the discussion. Dorcas pointed out that “Allyship is not just a fluffy word, it is actually hard work…you need to get out of your comfort zone…companies need to take the initiative to say, ‘This is a safe space, we are on your side, we are going to listen, we are going to change.’”

For more details, please read the 'People want inclusion' event summary.

People want equitable experiences — not just compliance

In our latest event, Hector Minto (Accessibility Evangelist at Microsoft) hosted a special workshop dedicated to accessibility on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). Accessibility is a vast topic and can include anything from accessible office design to accessible external communications and an accessibility-driven company culture. Most certainly accessibility is a topic one must not miss: Over one billion people live with disabilities in the world according to the World Health Organization. Not being accessible means you are excluding this group of consumers.

During his workshop, Hector explained how one can include people with impairments on social media and showed important best practices (e.g. captions and ALT text) that could help with it. What is more, he went on to demonstrate how one can create more accessible Microsoft Word and Microsoft PowerPoint documents. He demonstrated best practices and taught some easy tips and tricks that anyone can apply. To learn more, start with the Microsoft Accessibility Supplier toolkit for resources and training to help you earn an ‘Accessibility Fundamentals’ badge. The Microsoft Advertising Marketing with Purpose Playbook also gives you access to actionable tactics to build a more accessible, trusted brand.

For more details, please read the 'People want equitable experiences' event summary.

Open Perspectives in the Americas

As the world continues to evolve and change and demands for equitable policies and opportunities for all reverberate throughout the United States, the advertising industry has its opportunity to lead. The industry is primed to address and dismantle inequitable systems and drive systemic changes in how we drive inclusion and trust in our businesses.

Our industry in action

We engaged industry leaders in a candid discussion about how the advertising industry leads with action. We had a panel moderated by Rachelle Olden (Industry Partnerships & Engagements Manager, Microsoft Advertising), who facilitated a raw and unadulterated discussion about inclusive marketing, the importance of new-generation diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership, moving from awareness and performative allyship to accountability, and identifying tangible actions for an equitable future for our industry. The rest of the panel included Christena J. Pyle (Chief Equity Officer, Americas, Dentsu), Ericka Riggs (Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Omnicom), and Rebecca Sanders (Diversity Executive Leadership Sourcer, LinkedIn). For every Open Perspectives event, we have a segment called ‘Community Spotlight,’ where we feature organisations that exist to address challenges our industry is faced with pertaining to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this episode, COOP’s Chief Operating Officer, Randy Moore, shared how their organisation is overcoming underemployment through digital skills and peer connections.

If you missed the live conversation, be sure to catch it here on demand.

Graphic from a virtual event, titled Our industry in action.

Graphic from the Open Perspectives Industry Roundtable event. Watch it on-demand at

Outlook (EMEA, Americas, APAC)

We would love to welcome you to our upcoming Open Perspectives sessions in 2021!

Don't miss out on future EMEA sessions — Register now.

  • Join us for a panel discussion with the pioneers of sustainable travel at “Sustainable travel — the future of tourism” on 4 March.
  • Be there for a panel discussion with bold brands on the topic of “Speak up — why it matters for companies to take a stand” on 29 April.
  • Don’t miss out on our closing session, “How truthful is your brand?” on 10 June for an engaging conversation with brands that win with transparent supply chains and company cultures.

In the Americas, new conversations are brewing for the Open Perspectives: Our industry in action series in March and May 2021 and February for APAC. Visit our Americas series page for these upcoming engagements. Our commitment is that these conversations reflect what is currently top of mind, help address challenges you are facing, and help with our collective march toward a more equitable future for our industry. Stay tuned!

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