MEC Calls on the Ad Industry to Confront Their Biases With a New Movement

Initiative kicks off during Advertising Week

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Today MEC called on the advertising industry to help support a new initiative aimed at confronting bias in agencies. "Brave Your Bias" is a call to action, which the agency hopes will do more than simply start a conversation within the industry, but spark change.

"One of the things that we've seen in the past is that there's been a lot of policies written, a lot of discussion happened, but what hasn't really been addressed is the fundamental decision making process," Marie-Claire Barker, global chief talent officer, MEC, argued. Barker believes that can only change once people in the industry are able to identify their biases.


Today, outside of the Times Center Hall in New York, the agency is holding a pop-up voting-style booth. Within the booth, MEC is setting up Harvard's Implicit Association Test, which helps people identify what types of biases they may have. 

"Once they've done that we do have on-site coaches and councilors to talk to people in terms of giving them tips and techniques of what to do. We also have a pledge wall," Barker added. MEC hopes that other agencies will stand behind the initiative and take the pledge to uncover different biases within their own agencies.

The goal behind the Implicit Association Test is not to call people out for their biases, because as the MEC team argued, everyone has them. Instead it's meant to be a teaching tool. As part of the initiative, MEC has asked its 800-plus employees in North America to complete the IAT test by Sept. 30.

Brave Your Bias will also include a website, which launches today, where anyone can go to get tips and tricks for identifying their own biases. The team also hopes tomake people aware that bias extends beyond just gender and race. "There are a number of different tests you can take within the study that look at various biases, whether that's body weight or ethnicity and how we can really get deeper," Marla Kaplowitz, MEC North American CEO, said. 

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.