More than 200 UK advertising and media leaders have signed an open letter urging the industry to promote a racially just workplace, to call out and maintain an open dialogue about racism and be conscious of the trauma many black employees may be experiencing during this time of unrest.
The letter points to the latest IPA Agency Census, published in April, which revealed ethnic diversity at a leadership level has fallen fractionally year-on-year: in 2019, just 4.7 percent of C-suite executives were from an ethnic minority background, down from 5.5 percent in 2018.
To create and maintain “inclusive cultures sensitive to inequity and the pain of racism,” the signatories encourage the industry first empower leaders to drive representation by making inclusivity a core part of its strategic priorities, and thereafter transparently communicating these objectives. Leaders should also use their brand channels to acknowledge the escalating racism of the last few months and share relevant information backed by black-driven research.
Enabling employees to understand their privileges and biases and ensuring leaders widen their points of view must also become priorities.
Calling out racism whenever it’s encountered, the authors note, is everyone’s job, from the CEO to all staff. This requires creating safe spaces where frank conversations about racism can occur and using existing employee resource groups, such as WPP’s Roots and Publicis Group’s Embrace, or creating new ones.
The letter also implores leaders to check in with black employees and to promote and celebrate black talent as well as work with black-owned businesses and supply chains. Lastly, they caution leaders against creating advertising that funds white supremacy or racist content