Mentorship Leaders Share Ways to

Advocate for Black Colleagues, Beyond This Moment

Frustrated, perplexed, scared, hopeful, determined and humbled. These are just some of the feelings voiced by the attendees of this week’s Monday Night Mentorship zoom call, started by Jabari Hearn, VP of Marketing at Lyft and an Adweek Executive Mentor. The Monday Night Mentorship Collective was started by Jabari as a way to offer up advice and a listening ear to his network but quickly grew to hundreds of marketers reaching out to be part of the discussions.  As we all know, most of the best things in life happen organically—and nothing rings more true for these weekly peer-to-peer conversations.

More than 700 members have now joined the Monday Night Mentorship Collective.

This week, the conversation focused on navigating today’s work environment as a Black person and the group dove into some great solutions and advice for all that we wanted to share with the broader community. Here are some great tips and advice from just some the brand leaders who joined that discussion:

Use Your Voice

Julian Duncan, CMO of Jacksonville Jaguars (also an Adweek Executive Mentor) urged the group to use their voice. “Our biggest opportunity is to speak up. You have to make your voice heard—no more standing hopeful and pining and wishing and wanting somebody to just come in and pay attention. You have an opportunity; you have a voice.”

And that voice can (and should) come from all levels and in different forms, according to Julian. “[Speaking up] can come in a radical voice. It can come in a calm voice…. you have to do what you feel will be most effective given the culture that you are part of. But the only way that you can guarantee that nothing gets done is if you don't say anything at all.”

Look at Your Own House, First

“It's not enough to just make a statement. It's not enough to just say that you stand in solidarity. It's not enough to even just give a donation.” 18-year Nike marketing veteran Pamela Neferkara added that it’s important for brands to look at their own house first. The consultancy founder who now advises start-ups and non-profits went on to suggest a more important area of focus: “I would use this opportunity to talk about how you could change systems within a company. How do you change the annual performance review system to make sure that's fair? How do you change the salary review system to make sure that there's fairness? I would really use this as an opportunity to get at the heart of what could change within the company.”

Focus on Long-term Change

Look beyond this moment. That's another piece of advice shared on the call with an emphasis on focusing more on long-term change versus just reacting to what’s happening right now. One of the marketers who joined shared, “I think that it’s really important is to help your company create principles so that they’re actually moving forward—not just in this scramble to get a post out or scramble to kind of prove that they're on the right side of history.”

Just a few of the leaders who gathered to share their advice and insights with fellow marketers during this week's Monday Night Mentorship call. Pictured: Jabari Hearn, Pamela Neferkara and Julian Duncan.

Be a Brand Steward, Not Just a Brand Marketer

One impactful reminder during the call came from Jabari Hearn who said “brands are run by people...” He went on to say, “You have influence in this and I believe this is an inflection point in company culture. … They're going to ask you how can I help? And I hope that then you have an answer. And I hope many of you are working right now to put yourselves in a position where you don't have to ask—where you are the ones directing those marketing dollars to causes that matter.”

Have Candid Conversations

“It's also about bursting bubbles to some degree and correcting incorrect assumptions.” Orlando Baeza, CMO of Kajabi noted that there’s a lot of power in vulnerability when having hard, honest conversations and trying to get people aligned. “I've found there's a lot of power in vulnerability when trying to get people aligned, especially when folks don't have the same type of context or knowledge of nuance that you may. … It's sharing context. It's sharing nuance. It's talking through the core of those issues and I think what you'll find is people are very open and empathetic and willing to receive that information but don't know where to find it.”

Hold Allies Accountable

In regards to allies, marketer, author and Adweek Executive Mentee Annie Jean-Baptiste stressed the importance of accountability. “When you have allies or people who are trying to be allies checking in on you, I am definitely a big fan of holding them accountable and asking them, what's one thing that they're going to do. And if you have those one or two things you think are really important, trying to get them along to amplify and figure it out—whether they're standing in front of you, next to you or behind you—and helping to move it forward.”

Be Consistent

But of course, what you do in this moment only matters if you keep it up, not just today but every day according to Julian Duncan. He noted “We can't just show up on Juneteenth, on Black History Month, on MLK Day … those are great mile markers and tent pole moments, but what we have to challenge our companies and our brands to do is to think about this thing as an ongoing concern. And why it makes sense to pay attention to and have that conversation with the community throughout the year—and do it with that nuance and vulnerability.”

Remember Self-care

At the end of the call, Jabari left the group with an encouraging reminder to take care of themselves first, so that they can take care of others. He went on to share his tips: first thing is not being so hard on myself. There are a lot of things I'm not doing right and there are a lot of things I could be doing better, but I'm not so hard on myself. The second thing that I'm doing is focusing in on my family and I've asked myself, ‘what are three things that I love?’ and spend time with those things every day. … take care of yourself first, and then we can change the world.”