What Agencies Are Doing to Encourage Discussion, Reflection and Celebration During Black History Month

From hosting panels to showcasing artwork to creating employee-led initiatives

MullenLowe's Black@Mullen group was founded to create a space for new hires of color at the agency.
MullenLowe

Diversity can sometimes be a buzzword when it comes to corporate culture, but a number of agencies are putting their money where their mouth is and amplifying black voices in celebration of Black History Month. Adweek sent out a call to learn more about what agencies are doing to honor minority contributions for Black History Month and beyond.

Deutsch

Deutsch is pulling together efforts from its New York and Los Angeles offices to produce several experiences in a nod to Black History Month. Mikaela Liboro, who serves as vp and director of communications for the agency, said Deutsch will host a panel discussing the experience of black women in corporate America moderated by Bridget Kyeremateng from Tumblr with panelists Marieme Sall of Deutsch, Kai Deveraux Lawson of Mixed Company Podcast and Shannon Ross of Spotify.

Taking it a step further, the agency is presenting a workshop series, an Afrobeat dance class and two art installations from artists Jill Knox Powell and Zahyr Lauren.

The agency said its core is in its talent and that “creating an inclusive place for our employees is our number one priority.”

Argonaut

San Francisco-based agency Argonaut recently kicked off a gallery along with a panel that features black leaders from varying industries in honor of Black History Month. The gallery showcases an exhibit featuring African American photographer and podcast host Erik Umphery, who has worked with Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah and countless others.

The gallery is Umphery’s first, and the artist has vowed to help the next generation of creators by “donating all art sales, profits and proceeds to a local organization geared toward providing support for local, underserved youth communities with resources to grow, learn and express themselves creatively through the arts.”

Maura Heilbron serves as Argonaut’s head of culture and said the agency’s goal, as “advertisers who have the privilege of telling stories on mass-viewed canvases, is to truly reflect the change we want to see in the world.”

TBWA\Chiat\Day

Black History Month is about “recognizing and paying homage to the individuals who have trailblazed, built, led, contributed, created and inspired the U.S.,” said TBWA\Chiat\Day chief diversity officer for North America Doug Melville. The agency said that while many of those trailblazers’ accomplishments were never acknowledged, “it is our duty to take the time to understand America’s past and to lay a pathway through creativity to celebrate the contributions of all black Americans.”

The agency is hosting two events to celebrate the month, including Intermission, a monthly event celebrating artists and those who create spaces for artists to thrive, which will showcase a performance and conversation with the singer and rapper Angel Haze. Additionally, their next installment of the Disruptor Series will feature Debra Lee, the former CEO of BET and the founder and CEO of Leading Women Defined.

According to the agency, the company recently launched an ongoing project called OneSandbox, a curated search platform built to showcase diverse makers and vendors in the creative space and connect them with brands and agencies looking to develop a more inclusive supply chain.

Anomaly

Over at Anomaly, the agency is celebrating Black History Month by taking a closer look at black identity and culture in its many forms.

Expect a panel where experts in media, journalism and culture discuss what it means to be black. There will also be musical performances from British rising talent Samm Henshaw and hypnotic singer-songwriter Niya Norwood.

For those hungry for more, a cooking demo highlighting tastes from the African diaspora is planned. Culinary artists and educators Cleopatra Zuli and Travis Young will explore black food history through an interactive cooking demo, preparing an Afro-Italian version of ragu alla bolognese, a traditional Italian favorite that found its way around the globe and onto African diasporic dining tables.

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