One year later: where agencies stand in the fight against racism in the industry

By Marla Kaplowitz, President & CEO, The 4A’s

May 25, 2020 marks a deeply painful day in American history: the murder of George Floyd. It is impossible to reflect upon this day, one year later, without revisiting the trauma that the weaponization of racism caused and continues to cause Black people and people of color every day. The 4A’s chief exec Marla Kaplowitz asks: amid this reckoning that prompts feelings of anger, frustration and exhaustion, we must ask, what has changed?

In an effort to address the need for significant reform in everyday and professional life, I considered the ways this event catalyzed a social justice movement within this industry that impacted the work and teams at every level. For one, it is no longer an unspoken reality that the marketing and advertising ecosystem has a lot of work to do to increase its diversity and culture of equity and inclusion.

Last year, brands and agencies were urged to address the need to build a better industry amid one of the largest surges in the Black Lives Matter movement by issuing statements of condemnation against racism and pledging to do better through more than just words – real, impactful actions. When it comes to living up to pledges made in moments where statements of allyship were the minimum expectation, May 25 marks something much more actionable than a time for reflection: it signals the need to revisit how much progress has or hasn’t been made within our own professional, everyday lives.