It’s Time to Do What Matters

To the Black agency professionals calling for change—we hear you. There is no forum or conversation more important than the industry’s response to systemic racism. It’s time to solve the longstanding diversity issues in our industry.


The 4A’s and its members must now come together to solve the pervasive pandemic of systemic racism. Our goal is to support agencies in providing an equitable future for all.

Two weeks ago, the 4A’s expressed the role we all need to exhibit—to invest in action. We made four strong calls to action and are now following that up with deeper guidance and actions for our organization and the agency community to embrace. Our calls to action are:

  • Hire Black people
  • Hear Black people
  • Promote Black people
  • Ensure your advertising includes everyone

First and foremost, we are here to support you, our members, and your employees.

The 4A’s believe that to be successful, we need to listen to what Black agency employees are communicating. Over the past week, Barry Wacksman, 4A’s Board Chair; Simon Fenwick, 4A’s EVP Talent, Equity & Inclusion; and I met several times with Bennett D. Bennett and Nathan Young, the founders of 600 & Rising, in writing an open letter to industry leadership. We hear and support the powerful letter from more than 600 Black agency professionals—members of our community—and are proud to announce that the 4A’s is now officially partnering with the newly formed 600 & Rising organization. We do this in an effort to ensure that Black voices at all levels of your organization have a voice and play a role in guiding the industry forward.

We support the 600 & Rising organization’s call for agencies to:

  • Provide a transparent path to elevate Black employees
  • Listen to and support Black ERGs
  • Implement zero tolerance policies on racism
  • Release a detailed action plan showing accountability to drive diversity within your organization

We all believe it is up to all of us to dismantle the racial barriers in our industry. That is why today the 4A’s announces additional actions to support the industry. We call on all our members to consider the following initiatives in your action plans to drive meaningful change for your organizations:

4A’s Diversity Survey

The key to meaningful change is understanding the industry data around diversity. As most of you are aware, there has been no clear diversity benchmark data solely for the agency community. While many of you gather comprehensive internal diversity data, the ability for the industry to evaluate itself has been missing. If we are to really see change, then we must be transparent.

Therefore, the 4A’s will conduct an annual Diversity Survey that will gather high-level statistics around Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Level and Location. This data will be confidential—similar to other benchmarking and survey work we lead—and the 4A’s will aggregate the data to formulate industry benchmarks.

While there are other surveys currently circulating the industry, your participation in an industry-led 4A’s survey is critical.

MAIP (Multicultural Advertising Intern Program)

Join the many agencies that support the 4A’s Foundation’s MAIP initiatives to drive more diversity into the industry. Agencies can participate in the Fellowship program, educating and exposing interns to opportunities at their organizations. The MAIP Alumni community allows agencies to interact with over 4,000 MAIPers spanning 47 years experience, the largest multicultural cohort of professionals in the industry.


Be part of the inaugural VANGUARD Program. The program is specifically designed for the industry to provide an opportunity to expand what mid-level Black employees see as possible for themselves while setting the stage for leaders and their organizations to have transparent conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion. A transformative program, generating real change. The program will help identify and address:
  • Mismatches in perceptions of racial equality across the organization
  • Underscore where the “myth of the meritocracy” is most alive
  • Spotlight leaders as champions of change
  • Equality and a level playing field for all voices to be heard
  • Opening channels of opportunity for the development of future Black leaders
  • Preparing the next generation of Black industry leaders through a series of initiatives, exposure, events, and opportunities

4A’s Equity & Inclusion Congress—Change Tomorrow, Today

Participate in the inaugural 4A’s Equity & Inclusion Congress—Change Tomorrow Today on September 21 and 22. Bringing together D&I, HR, and CEO leader practitioners from 4A’s members focusing on industry equity and inclusion challenges for Black people and People of Color in three key areas:

  • Development and retention of Black people & People of Color
  • Equity of Black people & People of Color
  • Shared Diversity, Equity & Inclusion planning and ideas

Evidence-based sessions, providing real experiences and valuable practical information that will equip individuals with the information and tools they need to have impact in their own organizations.

4A’s Workplace Enlightenment Program

An opportunity to embed the 4A’s Workplace Enlightenment Certification into your learning curriculum. WeC is designed to move your agency toward the highest standards of diversity, equity and inclusion. It impacts all levels of your organization—from the C-Suite to entry-level—and helps you address a range of needs from building a diverse talent pipeline to ensuring equitable practices across the agency. The program includes a five-session workshop for agency executives, with additional digital training and resources for managers and individual contributors. The program focuses on inclusion across the following six areas: Race/Ethnicity, Gender, LGBTQI+, Age, Differently Abled, and Faith.

Equity & Inclusion in Action—Agency Guide

The 4A’s will be launching guidance, “Equity & Inclusion in Action—Advancing the Diversity Conversation.” The guide is designed to help leaders, HR and D&I professionals in the industry address the most challenging issues and maximize the opportunities facing their organizations today given the COVID-19 and RACE pandemics across America.


Talent Talk Webinar Series

Starting next week, we will be launching a webinar series entitled Talent Talk. A series of conversations around the critical topics addressing DE&I, Culture, HR and Learning & Development with executives and practitioners across the industry.

The commitment from all of us to change is ongoing, requiring transparency and accountability. We at the 4A’s have work to do too. We look forward to partnering with you as we all take this journey together.