A group of Black advertising professionals released an open leader to advertising agency leadership demanding that the agencies address systemic racism that is afflicting the advertising industry. The letter, "A Call for Change: Black professionals in advertising demand urgent action from agency leadership" has been signed by more than six hundred people. (A full list of the signatories is available here.)
Citing the lack of progress that the advertising industry has made to be more diverse after "decades of well-intentioned diversity & inclusion efforts," the letter called on advertising agencies in the United States to take the following actions:
- Make a specific, measurable, and public commitment to improve Black representation at all levels of agency staffing, especially Senior and Leadership positions;
- Track and publicly report workforce diversity data on an annual basis to create accountability for the agency and the industry;
- Audit agency policies and culture to ensure the environment we work in is more equitable and inclusive to a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives;
- Provide extensive bias training to HR employees and all levels of management;
- Extend agency outreach to a more diverse representation of colleges, universities, and art schools;
- Expand residencies and internship programs to candidates with transferable skills who may not have taken a traditional educational path toward advertising;
- Create, fund, and support Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for Black employees
- Invest in management and leadership training, as well as mentorship, sponsorship, and other career development programs for Black employees;
- Require all leadership to be active participants in company Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and tie success in those initiatives to bonus compensation;
- Create a Diversity & Inclusion committee made up of Black and NBPOC employees to help shape diversity & inclusion policy and monitor its progress;
- Establish a diversity review panel to stem the spread of stereotypes in creative work and ensure offensive or culturally insensitive work is never published; and
- Introduce a wage equity plan to ensure that Black women, Black men and people of color are being compensated fairly.
The letter concluded with, "We, the signatories of this letter, are calling out for change in the form of direct action. We stand in solidarity with our women, non-binary, LGBTQ+, disabled and NBPOC colleagues who have made similar calls for change. Show us you're listening. Take decisive action now. Black lives matter."
"Take decisive action now"