A week ago 600 Black advertising professionals issued an open letter calling on the industry to make much more substantive changes on the diversity and inclusion front than it has to date.
Now the group has announced that it has formally incorporated as a nonprofit called 600 & Rising with a membership of nearly 1,100 Black ad professionals.
And it has announced its first partnership, with the 4A’s, to jointly provide guidance on critical next steps agencies need to take to address systemic racism in the industry.
The group’s letter has been the talk of the industry over the past week and appears to have had some part in driving significant change already. Interpublic Group, for example, in an industry first, released data detailing the racial composition of its senior leaders and professionals.
And earlier today WPP announced a sweeping plan to improve its D&I efforts that includes a $30 million commitment over three years to fund inclusion programs inside and outside the company. It also said it would take “decisive action” on each of the 12 points raised in the “Call For Change” open letter.
“When we organized this open letter, our intention was to make a statement,” said Nathan Young, president of 600 & Rising and group strategy director at Minneapolis-based ad agency Periscope. “In forming this organization, our intention is to make a lasting impact.”
“This initiative has been rooted in being by the people, for the people, from day one," added vice president, partnerships at 600 & Rising and principal at Aerialist, Bennett D. Bennett. “Our people have said that the time for excuses is over. Leadership says they don’t know where to find us, and we’re saying here we are. There’s no reason not to take urgent steps to reform diversity and inclusion practices, and build a stronger industry infrastructure for the advancement of Blacks and other people of color.”
The 4A’s and 600 & Rising have already fielded a survey of Black agency pros to gain insight on how best to move forward. The organizations are developing a draft methodology for how to standardize agency diversity reporting and are also developing a 90-day timetable for enacting diversity and inclusion reforms across the industry.
“Now more than ever, we stand in support of our industry’s D&I community,” stated Simon Fenwick, executive vice president, talent, equity & inclusion of the 4A’s. “For many years, these leaders have committed their careers to making our industry a better place. We call on industry leadership to support their teams who have been fighting for equity and inclusion on their behalf.”