As I watch these events unfold each day I continue to be struck with the question, what can I do to help?
First and most important, my heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and all the victims whose lives have been taken or damaged by acts of racism and injustice.
Let’s be clear — Black Lives Matter, and we cannot accept unjust killing. The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others reflect deeply ingrained racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in our country today, but we owe it to each other and to our communities to be very clear in condemning these acts of violence.
Over the past several months, throughout this coronavirus pandemic, we’ve often heard and said, “we’re all in this together.” Ironically, that’s never been more true than it is right now. If we are going to fight racism it’s something we all have to do, as individuals and together as communities and as a nation. We must acknowledge our country’s racist past, and understand that together we can build a better future — a future where everyone contributes and feels valued.
As marketing and communications professionals we are wired to create and to act, to build plans, tell stories, and to make a difference through our words and actions. And as LAGRANT Foundation Board members we have an opportunity to take action and make a difference.
I’ve spent the past few days thinking about what I can do to help. To my fellow communications professionals, I humbly offer the following actionable ideas:
- Check in with your Black colleagues and employees. Ask what you can do to help and support your co-workers. Prepare yourself to listen a lot more than you speak.
- Get involved with your organization’s employee resource group (ERG) for people of color. At WE, ours is WE PRISM. If you don’t have one, start one!
- Connect with your clients. Proactively reach out and counsel your clients to put their money where their mouth is, and to back up statements about D&I with investments in D&I. I’m seeing great examples from brands like Microsoft, Lululemon and Netflix. The outstanding responses from Intel, Glossier and others should be a model for all of us.
- Pledge your support and financial commitment to organizations that create opportunities for communicators and marketers of color. I sit on the board of The LAGRANT Foundation, a great organization whose mission is to increase the number of ethnic minorities in the fields of advertising, marketing and public relations by providing scholarships, career & professional development workshops, mentors and internships. Please give to TLF so that they continue doing the important work that needs to be done.
- Act. Your actions speak louder than your words. The biggest thing your organization can do is to employ more people of color that represent the communities where we live and work. It’s pretty simple: Recruit, Interview and Hire more qualified Black people and people of color. Support more Black-owned businesses. Work with more Black and minority-owned vendors. Make people of color a part of your daily business operations.
- Work together. The best work and the best relationships have come when people of different backgrounds, races, religions, genders and nationalities come together around a common goal. It’s more than just a seat at the table — it’s a voice at the table.
Personally, I know I need to do more. I need to give more people of color opportunities. I need to do more to celebrate our differences. I need to reach out more, educate myself, ask questions that make me uncomfortable and really listen to the hard answers. Right now I’m doing a lot of listening and learning. We’re having hard conversations, but ones that need to take place. I’m committed to trying, to getting started and to doing whatever I can do, and then more.
We can all learn, and we can all do better. Let’s get there and #standtogether.
Global COO, President International | WE Communications
The LAGRANT Foundation Board Member