According to Jeff Davidoff ‘89, individuals often believe they have to choose between having a successful corporate career and having a career that encompasses social impact.
“It is a false choice to think that you either have to have a successful capitalistic career or do good. One of the great myths of our business time is this notion that the sole goal of the company is to provide the greatest value to its shareholders. When you employ people, you have a responsibility to those people. When you work in a community, you have a responsibility to that community and to pretend otherwise is wrong and foolish.”
Davidoff is the President of Walton Isaacson, an advertising agency known for its diversity and creativity. After graduating from Kellogg, he spent over 15 years on the client side at companies including, Orbitz, Donuts Inc. and Whirlpool. Whirlpool had a relationship with the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity, donating appliances and enabling employees to help build the Habitat Homes. It was during one of these builds when Davidoff had a transformational experience that changed his view on social impact.
“I was in Anniston, Alabama, on a week-long build for a single mother of two, and we are working away, the house is going up. On day three, at one moment the lady just bursts into tears. And I went over to this woman and said, ‘What is wrong?’ And she replied, ‘I just can’t believe people came from all over the world to build my house.’ And that was it, that was for me that real moment of epiphany where I realized, I am either an active part of the solution or I am the problem, and that in-between was not a place I could be any more.“
With that mindset, Davidoff joined Bono’s ONE Campaign as Chief Marketing Officer, an experience that was pivotal in crystallizing his perspective on action as the critical game-changer. His time there also shaped the value he placed on a purpose-driven culture. When he made plans to return to the advertising agency world, he was immediately drawn to Walton Isaacson because of their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“Our workforce is equal parts African American, Hispanic and white. We are 65:35 female-to-male. My leadership team is 80% female and of that 80%, that again is 80% African American. And I will tell you that we have the fiercest, best A-tier talent of any place I have ever worked, and I think that, not only is it a better place to work, I am confident we generate better ideas.”