Confronting systemic racism must start at the top.
Otherwise, it will persist with every leader who looks the other way. Every leader who checks a box. Every leader who thinks it’s their company’s responsibility to address it—and not their own.
As leaders, this is not the time to stay silent. It’s about action that starts from the top. Action that’s fueled by the centuries of injustice, indignity and atrocities that have targeted the Black community. The hate, the violence, the murder of men, women, transgender people and children. We must be saddled with the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and others whose names and stories we do not know and not rest until we have played a significant part in eradicating racism.
It’s time to shatter that complicit posture and summon all the influence, power and funding we have as industry leaders to take meaningful action to bring an end to systemic racism.
As the leader of David&Goliath, it begins with me.
The only way for me to respond to systemic racism is to go within myself and examine my own complicity and evolve from there. Not just with words, but actions that come from a fierce desire to create immediate, impactful and sustainable change.
To that end, my commitment is as follows:
To begin to dismantle systemic racism, we acknowledge the barriers that have prevented Black talent from thriving in our industry. Therefore, to disrupt this pattern, we are pledging to accelerate our recruiting efforts on hiring Black talent at every level to attempt to achieve equal representation within the next six months and provide even greater opportunity for Black talent on an ongoing basis.
Painted on the wall of our agency is the “Ten Brave Ways” that inspire us daily. No. 2 is We are stronger than me. In the spirit of this brave way, we have assembled a diverse group of employees called the Braver Together Culture Team. They will help ensure that we exceed all our goals for creating a more unified agency with specific attention to elevating our current Black employees as well as continuing to provide greater opportunities for people of color on an immediate and sustained basis.
We will continue to strengthen our alliances with community partners including Year Up!, Light Bringer Project, Film2Future, Dynamic Girls, AEF MADE and the 4A’s MAIP. And for our Bravehearts internship program, we will identify and hire underrepresented young talent, including an equal representation of Black youth, and continue to help in their development of personal and professional growth.
I will be speaking on panels about racism and serving as an advisor for Allyship & Action. We will be donating $100,000 to further its cause for sustainable, scalable, systemic change.
As members of 600&Rising, D&G is participating in the #CommitToChange campaign to help the organization in their mission to rid our industry of systemic racism.
As a board member of the 4A’s, I will be leading the charge in encouraging other CEOs to confront racial injustice and inequalities head-on by acting from empathy and implementing practices within their companies.
Juneteenth has not only been added as one of our company holidays, but also will be our annual day of service to Black communities.
I have started an unlearning and learning process, partnering with DE&I experts and consultants. Our president has begun this process as well. This will be an ongoing dialogue as we are learning to unlearn by the minute, inclusive of any microaggressions or past actions rooted in racism. Our managers will begin shortly, and then the rest of the agency will follow.
From here, we go outward.
Most significantly, true commitment to eradicating racism must not only be a constant in the workplace but also go beyond the walls of your company. With the help of the nonprofit Today, I’m Brave, we have identified three sustainable initiatives that will demonstrate true allyship and support of Black-owned businesses. We will be announcing these initiatives shortly.
These are just a few actionable steps we are committing to, from the top down, and from the inside out, to ensure we hold ourselves accountable. To recognize that we, as leaders, are not perfect. That we are all human and may have made mistakes and missteps in the past. That this is an opportunity for us to evolve. Because when we do, it will lead to true transformation of ourselves, the industry and the world.
This is our chance to rip the noxious weed from its roots so it never returns. To ensure the malignancy doesn’t get passed on to yet another generation. To go deeper and crystalize on why it’s vitally important for leadership to rise up and be accountable. Not because they have to, but because they want to. Because they know it’s the right thing to do.
I want to, and will, be part of a movement to eradicate racism for good.
And I call on every CEO, every agency leader, to look within and join me.