UK bosses from some of the largest advertising agencies have signed an open letter pledging solidarity and support with the black community, promising to do more within the digital advertising industry and take action on inequality.

The open letter was coordinated by Creative Equals, a body dedicated to promoting diversity in the workplace, involving 200 UK industry bosses. The news comes against the backdrop of continued protests in the US and around the world, following the death of George Floyd in police custody last week (May 25).

Chief executives from WPP, Publicis Groupe, IPA, Facebook, GroupM, Havas and more have come together and pledged to tackle systemic change within the digital advertising industry and “maintain inclusive cultures that are sensitive to the enduring injustice and pain of racism”.

“While the brutality has brought widespread shock, the direct effect of this injustice and violence on people of colour in our industry cannot be underestimated,” the letter stated.

“As inequality is so ingrained within the fabric of society and our sector, this is a problem we need to take action on together to affect change. We can all self-educate. We can all challenge our prejudices and those of others. We are all able to prioritise diversity, equity and inclusion at this critical time.”

As part of the pledge, the initiative asks industry leaders to be intentional in their support for black talent and communities at this time by holding themselves accountable in 10 following ways.

These include: driving representation and inclusivity by being a core part of the team’s strategic priorities with clear KPIs, actions and objectives, leaders stepping up and taking action, enabling employees to understand their own privileges and what white privilege is, call out racism whenever it is encountered, creating safe and inclusive spaces for open discussions, checking in with black employees at this difficult time and ensuring their advertising isn’t funding white supremacy or racist content.

You can read the full open letter to the industry here.

Real change is needed

This week has seen several brands (Nike, Netflix, Facebook and more) and individuals coming together in solidarity and vowing to support black communities around the world in response to the recent headlines.

Coming out and showing support with words is one thing, but taking action is another. This is vital in initiating real change, particularly in the digital advertising industry where it has fallen incredibly short when it comes to workforce diversity.

Similarly, within performance marketing, an industry that’s people-driven; formed by relationships, technology and innovation; diversity has often been questioned. Both Awin and CJ Affiliate this week have spoken up and pledged to do more in supporting black communities and stand against racial and social injustice.

Collectively as an industry, it is very important that leaders from all sides come together to continue the conversations, using their platforms to speak up, supporting talent and take physical action to do more in improving diversity and inclusion in the sector.

“We recognise our actions need to be ongoing and there is always opportunity to do more. The pain in our communities and for many of our employees is real and the reality is, too many have experienced this pain for far too long. We know we don’t have all of the answers, but we know this: Complacency is not an option and we are stronger together,” The Awin Board said in its statement.