4A's Simon Fenwick: Our next steps for reaching racial equity

"Let's get to work."

During the most powerful wave of the Black Lives Matter movement to date, this moment has exposed the best of our industry’s efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion, and it has spotlighted the work that still needs to be done.

This is the watershed moment for many of our industry’s DE&I leaders who are only now receiving the long-fought attention and resources needed to diversify their agencies. In recent weeks, I have started to see the efforts we have been advocating for throughout our entire careers come to fruition through partnerships and initiatives like that of my own organization with AdColor, She Runs It, 3% Conference and 600&Rising. 

It is no secret that there is much work to be done in marketing and advertising when it comes to bridging the racial divide for teams, and increasing representation in our work. But our teams and missions have the same goal: maintain the movement’s moment, and achieve true equity within the industry for those who need it most. 

In making this happen, the 4A’s and 4A’s Foundation is approaching the task of increasing diversity and inclusion within agencies in multiple ways, centered around the following efforts:

4A’s Diversity Survey

A critical component of charting the path forward is increasing our collective understanding of where we are. The 4A’s Diversity Survey will be released annually and gather high-level statistics around such topics as Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Level, etc. and aggregate the data to formulate industry benchmarks. 

VANGUARD Program

At the 4A’s Foundation, our goal is to support agencies in providing a diverse and equitable future for underrepresented talent. Prior to COVID-19, we identified the need to retain and grow mid-level Black/African American talent across the industry. The Vanguard program will provide Black/African American talent exposure and personal development, while also helping CEOs/Leaders and their organizations navigate conversations to broaden their perspectives, build pathways through retention and promotion plans, and provide the business with the tools to address systemic racism and bias. Originally planned to launch pre-coronavirus, the program has been converted into a virtual platform with greater accessibility for talent.

4A’s Equity & Inclusion Congress

On September 21 - 23, 2020, the 4A’s will convene executive leaders and D&I changemakers for the first time to share their organization’s action plans to drive internal change while also discussing the development, retention, and state of equity for Black employees and People of Color. At the meeting, agencies will have the opportunity to discuss past challenges while also holding each other accountable for where we are headed as an overall industry.

Now more than ever, the 4A’s is a unified body of people, including myself, who want to see and make real change happen in the name of racial equity. We are ready to help agencies hold themselves accountable to turn diversity benchmarks into starting points. Let’s get to work.

Simon Fenwick is the EVP of Talent Equity & Inclusion of the 4A’s.

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