A call for Canadian agencies and clients to lend Ukrainians a helping hand

The ICA is urging Canadian agencies and clients to provide work opportunities for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, as well as humanitarian aid for those still stranded in the country.

In a note posted to its website today under the headline “Talent Unlimited,” the industry association announced that it is working with the All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition (VRK), Poland’s Marketing Communication Association (SAR), and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to publicize and promote resources intended to help Ukrainian professionals whose livelihood has been disrupted.

Earlier this month, the ICA issued a statement condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine as a “despicable attack on peace and democracy,” and announced that it would suspend its institutional relationships with its Russian and Belarussian counterparts: The Russian Association of Communications Agencies and the Association of Communication and Marketing Agencies of Belarus.

President and CEO Scott Knox ultimately decided not to make that statement public, however, feeling that something more tangible was required as the humanitarian crisis grew.

The ICA is urging its members to post any job openings on AdAid.eu, a Polish-led initiative billing its mission as providing “Work for Ukrainian friends.” The site features both job seekers and job openings, as well as employment resources. “Any Canadian agency or client marketing department that is looking for new talent should consider posting their vacancies here,” said the ICA.

Knox said that he has also reached out to other industry trade organizations urging them to support the effort “All I want people to do is put their job [openings] on that portal,” he said. “Not a lot of this is heavy lifting by the ICA… we’re just trying to amplify it.”

As of Friday, the AdAid.eu site listed nearly 220 Ukrainian marketing and advertising professionals, as well as job postings from agency networks including DDB, The&Partnership and Wavemaker. There were no Canadian listings as of noon Friday.

The Canadian government has also made it easier for Ukrainians to obtain work permits, which Knox said could be a potential fix for agencies facing staff shortages resulting from the “great resignation.” The ICA is also working with Jumpstart Refugee, and Talent Beyond Boundaries, both of which work to connect refugees with potential employers.

“We’ve been talking for weeks about the great resignation and the talent shortage in the industry in Canada, so these should go together,” said Knox. “Let’s see if we can help Ukrainian marketing and advertising professionals come and get jobs in Canada.”

The ICA also stressed that these efforts should extend beyond Ukraine to other war-torn countries. “While not wishing to diminish the aggression and impact of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, many countries and peoples have faced this,” the statement reads. “It is perhaps that it is a white, European war that brand and media attention is so strong.”

There are currently widespread efforts around the world and across business sectors to find work for displaced Ukrainians, and the marketing industry is no different.

Two Russian-born brothers now based in New York, Petr and Fed Novikov, recently launched a job resource for displaced Ukrainian professionals called HireForUkraine.org. According to an Adweek story, the site boasts more than 1,000 active users—three of whom are currently in Canada—with more than 600 recruiters using the system.

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Chris Powell