By Planet Propaganda
On Juneteenth of this year, in the midst of nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd, we posted our dedication to examine and correct a system that has long rewarded some groups at the expense of others and continues to do so today.
In the original post we stated:
“We recognize that actions speak louder than words, and the time for action is now. There’s a tremendous amount of work to do: there are no overnight solutions to centuries-old injustices. But we can no longer use the magnitude of these challenges as an excuse to stay silent or sit on the sidelines. We need to use our privilege to support those who are advocating for change, and to be active participants in that change.
Accountability is key, and that is why we’ve taken concrete steps to ensure that our efforts don’t fade as soon as the recent round of headlines recedes.”
In the spirit of accountability, It’s time for an update of what we’ve done since then.
To ensure progress on these efforts, we created an internal Diversity & Inclusion task force made up of members from every department and Planet’s senior leadership team. The task force includes committees specifically dedicated to our three main points of focus: Employee Education, Internal Operations, and Outward Action. The groups formulated a plan and began making direct efforts to address our core goals.
Employee Education: We recently enrolled our agency in a 5-month Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program with Madison’s niNA Collective. In order to make all of our efforts more effective, we need to improve our collective understanding of the challenges at hand, becoming more empathetic and open to perspectives outside of our own. We have also supported additional ongoing staff education and advocacy efforts including attendance and participation at the YWCA Racial Justice Summit, niNA’s Circle of Resistance and Resilience group, and the UW Diversity Forum, and will continue to do so.
This committee also launched a weekly Reading Squad and a weekly employee resource guide. The Reading Squad reads and discusses books on the topics of race and social justice and this group curates an employee resource guide with links to inspirational and educational content, as well as actions to take to support minority-led causes and businesses.
Internal Operations: In order to recruit from a more diverse candidate pool, we’ve been advertising our job listings on the 3% Movement website, and proactively sourcing candidates from sites like The Avail List, Hire Black Female Creatives, Hire Black Creatives and others. While we have a lot of room for improvement in creating a more diverse agency team, we know that it’s our responsibility to proactively find sources and strategies for creating more equitable opportunities and move beyond easy excuses.
We’ve also begun auditing our list of agency partners (e.g. directors, production teams, freelancers) to ensure a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and plan to establish new benchmarks and goals for who we work with in 2021.
It’s been our pleasure to partner with a group of small agencies across the country to collectively address diversity and inclusion issues within our industry and specifically with small shops like ours. While details are still in the works, we’ll share more info once these initiatives launch.
Outward Action: We are currently engaging with our local community on several fronts. First, we are reaching out to local Black-owned businesses and organizations to offer pro bono creative services based on their needs. Whether it’s a restaurant that needs social media ads, or a community organization that’s looking to update their recruiting materials, we’ll customize a plan that helps meet their goals and support their important endeavors.
Secondly, we are actively building a plan to patronize more businesses owned by underrepresented groups for things like catering and other office purchases (once we return to the office post-COVID). Our office manager will be tracking our purchases and ensuring we stick to our pledge to support these businesses in our community and beyond.
Lastly, we are partnering with local youth groups to offer mentorship opportunities specifically tailored to giving students of color more exposure to advertising as a career path. Planeteers will be speaking to classes and other career development groups (remotely for now), with plans to strengthen our partnerships as conditions allow for more in-person opportunities like job shadows or career days.
These are all first steps towards a cultural shift that will impact how we do business from now on. We’re dedicated to evolving our agency culture, the work we do, our community, and the advertising world at large.