On Sunday, we took to Twitter with a pressing question as protests across the country addressing widespread police brutality and systemic racism continued:
What should agencies do or say to address this moment in America?
— AgencySpy (@AgencySpy) May 31, 2020
Most took the question seriously and we received over 70 replies. Responses varied but a few themes emerged for what agencies should be doing right now. Some people, perhaps understandably, were cynical any agency response would amount to anything meaningful, but most focused on what they did hope to see from agencies. A few of the things people seem to want from agencies to do most to address this moment is listening to Black employees, taking meaningful steps toward real diversity and inclusion, ensuring Black employees have the space and support they need, avoiding buying airtime on Fox News, financially supporting causes related to systemic racism and not exploiting the situation by entering any ads created around this moment into awards shows.
R/GA U.S. chief strategy officer had one of the most popular responses, encompassing a variety of approaches:
Hire Black talent
Promote Black talent
Stand up inclusive teams
Give Black co-workers space to process the trauma
Check company process for implicit bias
Steer clients from implicit bias choices
Don’t buy Fox News airtime
… all of this before making superficial ads about unity
— Tom Morton (@tommorton) May 31, 2020
The ubiquitous Cindy Gallop, Society Redefined Consulting founder Deadra Rahaman and others emphasized the need for action over discussion:
Don’t SAY anything, DO. Ensure, then show full Black representation on your leadership team + every level, and that Black talent is just as welcomed, hired, promoted, valued, championed, celebrated, compensated, bonused, rewarded and gets to thrive in your agency as much as white
— Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) May 31, 2020
Don’t say anything this industry is in no position to pretend it stands for equality for Black people when there are less than 5% of AA in the industry, just barely 100 Black women in leadership/C-suite roles. Do by hiring Black leaders on your boards, etc. Demand accountability
— Deadra Rahaman (@DeadraRahaman) May 31, 2020
Do not say a single word without donating a substantial amount of money to organizations that support Black lives matter AND actively hire // elevate Black executives. That’s it. That’s the only acceptable thing to do.
— michael j (@mgrillo87) May 31, 2020
Hearst Magazines svp, chief talent officer Keesah Jean-Baptiste suggests agencies need to address some tough questions.
Ask the hard questions: why don’t we have anyone of color in leadership? Have you overlooked talent in your hiring practices for objective reasons? Why has your company focused and addressed gaps w/women and not people of color? Sit with these questions as a leadership team.
— Keesha Jean-Baptiste (@keesha_kjb) May 31, 2020
Derek Walker, owner of agency brown and browner, said agency leaders need not just to “do better” but “address how they think about Black people.”
Agency leadership needs do better but none of that matters if they don’t address how they think about Black people, and before anyone says they’re “good people,” the numbers say otherwise. If a leader wants diversity and inclusion, they would actually have it. “Do. Or do not do.”
— Derek Walker (@dereklwalker) May 31, 2020
Digital marketing director Jonathan Wilson noted the need for measures starting well before employees are hired and continuing through audits of promotional practices.
— Mentor young people from underrepresented groups before they’re choosing advertising college majors.
— Solicit and accept a diverse class of interns.
— Audit hiring and promotional practices to encourage diversity at higher ranks.
— jonathan wilson (@jonathanbwilson) May 31, 2020
Please share your own ideas for how agencies should be addressing this moment and systemic racism more broadly on Twitter.
If you’d like to comment or share information on how your agency/holding company has or hasn’t taken action to support Black employees during this time, you can share a tip via our anonymous tip box or email firstname.lastname@example.org.