A US-based non-profit called 600 & Rising is billed as the first entity solely dedicated to the advocacy and advancement of black advertising employees in adland and beyond.
The collective, which has partnered with the 4A’s for firepower, was born from the now-infamous open letter in which black professionals called on our industry’s leaders for action.
"When we organised this open letter, our intention was to make a statement," said Nathan Young, president of 600 & Rising and group strategy director at Periscope. "In forming this organisation, our intention is to make a lasting impact."
#4As is proud to partner with @600andRising to promote the advancement of Black advertising talent & end systemic racism in the industry. Take action & learn about our #4As #diversity survey, Equity & Inclusion Congress & more. https://t.co/kFSetkit3t #BlackTalentMatters pic.twitter.com/c0Dqdrntsg— 4A's (@4As) June 17, 2020
The organisation, which currently counts nearly 1,100 black advertising professionals in its membership, plans to leverage its direct connection with the largest singular base of advertising professionals of colour to help create more effective diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and negotiate more directly with independent agencies, holding companies, and industry organisations.
"What we’ve heard from our members is that, as individuals, they don’t feel like they have a voice," said Young. "This organisation has been designed from the ground-up to amplify black voices and ensure that collectively, we get the resources and recognition that have been denied to our members for far too long."
Vice president, partnerships at 600 & Rising and principal at Aerialist, Bennett D. Bennett, said: "This initiative has been rooted in being by the people, for the people, from day one. 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 colour."
Through the 4A’s partnership, the force will provide key guidance on the critical next steps agencies need to take to address systemic racism in the advertising industry.
"The 4A’s has always been committed to supporting our agency members, and now we are doing so in a way that empowers the very people who need our support the most," said Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO of the 4A's. "There is a lot of work to be done, and we are readily leveraging our platform to continue partnering with agency leaders and with the members of 600 & Rising in making their critical work a reality."
The two organisations have already fielded a survey among black agency professionals that has generated key insights on how to move forward, developed a draft methodology for how to standardise agency diversity data reporting, and set an aggressive 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," said 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."