Association outlines steps marketers can take to improve

The Association of National Advertisers says it wants to improve on its “limited progress in all aspects of diversity and inclusion.” The organization, along with its diversity arm, the Alliance for Inclusive & Multicultural Marketing, issued a call to action on Tuesday that included a letter to member companies asking them to pledge to take steps to become more diverse and inclusive.

“As we experience unprecedented loss due to the novel coronavirus, Black and Brown communities continue to face an age-old virus that has infected America for four centuries: racism,” reads the letter, which will run as an ad this week in The New York Times, USA Today and Adweek. “As America marches for an end to racism, injustice, and inequality against Blacks, the marketing and advertising industry is here to say we see you, we hear you, we are with you, and we commit to do everything in our individual and collective power to end systemic racism and achieve equality and justice.”

The ANA recommends marketers take steps including implementing annual diversity reports, establishing systems to end systemic racism within the ad industry, spending more on multicultural marketing, improving measurement to confirm the accuracy of multicultural and inclusive data, and making the creative supply chain more equitable.

As of late morning Tuesday, several executives had signed the pledge committing to systemic change, including Facebook’s Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Lucio and Susan Seams, senior director of experience planning at Kellogg. Lucio has long been an industry advocate for equality and had made steps at HP, where he worked previously, to implement diversity within the company and at the brand’s agencies.

The push comes as many brands are making statements and exploring initiatives for social equality within their own ranks following the deaths of black individuals including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement demanding justice.

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