Minneapolis creative agency Periscope released a statement today outlining steps it is taking to address systemic racism, two weeks after the police murder of George Floyd in its home city and on the day of Floyd’s funeral.
“Two weeks ago, we watched in horror as yet another black person needlessly lost their life as a result of police brutality,” the agency said in a statement, adding that they mourn Floyd’s death along with Minneapolis citizens and those around the world. The statement goes on to call Floyd “a brother, a father and a member of our community” and his death “unjust and the direct result of systemic racism that has long been present in this country.”
In the statement, Periscope demands accountability for Floyd’s death, as well as for “the countless other acts of racism that go unnoticed in our city and country each and every day.”
“We recognize that we cannot demand accountability from others without first holding ourselves accountable,” the agency acknowledged. “As an industry, we have not done enough to address systemic racism and inequality. To that end, Periscope has reviewed our diversity and inclusion efforts and found that we have fallen far short of the standard we wish to uphold.”
Periscope then announced that it is implementing “four major initiatives to change for the better.”
Those initiatives include:
- A public commitment to ensure a more diverse agency workforce, including “immediate adjustments to the way we recruit for diverse talent, including providing unconscious bias training to hiring managers and improving the representation in applicant pools for every open position going forward.”
- Sharing progress toward the agency’s diversity goals in order to ensure they meet that commitment, including “details on the initiatives we took, the success of those measures, and our progress toward our diversity goals.” The agency also urged other agencies and the industry at large to “take similar steps to increase transparency around this critical issue.”
- Increasing the agency’s “investment in developing talented people of color” through renewed partnerships with 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP), as well as increased outreach to high schools, colleges and universities. The agency also acknowledged “the need to improve representation in senior and leadership roles at Periscope,” announcing the implementation of “specialized mentorship and management training programs focused on diversity and inclusion in the coming months” in an effort to reach that goal.
- A commitment to pro bono work for unspecified nonprofit organizations with a mission to combat racial inequality and work with these organizations to “change the conversation in America and advance the changes that are so urgently needed in our society.”
“Doing things people love means fighting indifference and taking a firm stand against hate,” the agency’s statement concluded. “We condemn racial injustice and police brutality in the strongest possible terms and affirm our commitment to a more just world for all.”
Periscope’s new commitments come in the wake of a series of setbacks in recent months at the agency, which is owned by Wisconsin-based printing company Quad/Graphics, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, Periscope laid off around 50 employees because of “current and expected reductions in marketing spend across the broad array of services it provides.” The layoffs followed Periscope instituting staggered furloughs across the agency in April. The agency has also pivoted the types of services it is providing for clients, such as responding to an increased demand for strategic guidance with the recent hire of Nathan Young as group strategy director. Young co-authored an open letter from 600 Black agency professionals calling for meaningful change addressing systemic racism from industry leaders which was published on June 9.