Catherine Foisy : "I want to deconstruct gender stereotypes in advertising."
It was after being approached by a recruiter that Isabelle Chrun secured a Zoom interview with Republik’s owners, Vincent and Jean-Philippe. The job posting said, "We are looking for a senior strategist who can ask tough questions," and that’s exactly what she did during her interview:
“After asking all of their questions, Vincent and JP asked if I had any questions for them. So I said to them, ‘You are two men with decision-making power in a great agency, you have a good education with an impressive background. So my question to you is: at what exact point in your life did you realize that you were privileged?’ Their hesitation made me realize that they really weren't expecting that,” remembers Isabelle, laughing.
By sharing stories about her childhood, her parents’ arrival in Quebec as refugees, and her sister's journey, Isabelle began to realize that racism and injustices were everywhere in her life. Tired of seeing contempt and repeated micro-aggressions being played out around her, she decided to make inclusiveness and diversity her workhorse:
"We like to say that all humans are equal, but the truth is, we don't all begin at the same starting line at birth. As you grow older, it’s important to have role models to look up to. Being able to relate to a success story and being inspired is important, but it’s more difficult for people of colour. Advertising has a huge influence on the way people think, consciously and subconsciously, yet on TV and billboards everyone you see is mostly white."
It was a big step for Isabelle to jump into the marketing industry, where people from minority groups are under-represented, and even more so in management roles:
“I remember a previous job where I ran into sceptics when I brought diversity and equality issues to the table. That’s when everything became clear to me - we were in 2019, and I was trying to come up with arguments and statistics to convince colleagues that there are indeed inequalities in society, when I should have been working on a solution.”
For Isabelle, it's pretty clear - if those involved in the discussions and decision-making process are all cut from the exact same cloth, there will always be a gap between said discussions and reality, often leading to missed opportunities.
"That's why working at Republik works for me. We are able to recognize that there’s a gap and we are willing to do something to bridge it. Of course, we aren’t perfect, but the openness is there, the discussions are there, and the efforts are being channelled in the right direction."
"The positions of power in our industry are predominantly held by white people, and chances are I’ll have to fight this my entire career. Concretely, that means that my first professional goal will always be to become the best strategist. I want to become a master of my art! However, I will always have this second goal of changing the mindset of an industry in order to help people of colour who walk in my footsteps."
The good news is, Isabelle doesn't have to do this alone:
“The good thing about being at Republik, and having the colleagues that I have, is that I feel like I have a 'safe space' to express my opinions honestly. I have allies."
There is a sentence that we often hear at Republik, which is: "Actions speak louder than words." Isabelle intends to live and work by these words:
“Hiring someone like me who openly shares their views on diversity issues is a first step for the agency. But, my job is going to be to hold Republik accountable for actions taken in this direction, because more than ever, I want to give a voice to the voiceless."
What kind of agency welcomes the personal convictions of its team members? An agency that wants to change the world, nothing less.
At Republik, we work with clients who understand the importance of taking action on social and environmental issues and who integrate the principles of social responsibility into their business models. We are looking for talents who have strong convictions and who have the ambition to change the world.
Don't let your convictions take the backseat, put them to work and run with it.