Everyone—from individuals to companies to brands—is facing the question of how to respond to the Black Lives Matter movement as protests against systemic racism continue across the country.
While it’s scary to jump into the fray, what might be scarier for brands is not jumping in, said Pop’N Creative’s Jessica Lane Alexander and Lori Hall at the Promax Virtual Experience on Wednesday.
“Silence is louder than words. Many brands will be scared into inaction. Don’t be one of them,” they said during their presentation.
To help brands figure out where to start, the pair presented three questions every media and entertainment company needs to ask themselves.
First, do your statements match your actions?
“Show your consumers that your commitment starts with a statement but doesn’t just end with words. Do they matter as you select leads for shows? As you select production companies? As you build and tell your marketing stories? Adjust your processes and your culture,” said Hall.
As Daily Show host Trevor Noah said: “You’ve gotta be more than Black Lives Matter in the tweets, you’ve gotta be Black Lives Matter in the streets.”
What is hard for companies—and those that lead them—is that “we have to be okay with change that does not always benefit us,” said Alexander. “Sometimes the best way to lead is to get out of the way and make room for someone else.”
Second, do you champion black talent in your senior leadership? Do you champion it in front of the camera and behind the camera? Do you champion black talent overall?
“We have a problem in this industry. Is it really a lack of black talent? We don’t think so. There is a lack of sourcing black talent. We need companies to expand their sourcing strategies to discover black talent. We need them to leverage black recruiting and talent organizations.” said Hall. There needs to be action after these conversations. Don’t just have them to have them and say check, we’re done.”
Third, do you traffic in stereotypes?
Alexander showed a clip of Martin Lawrence playing his ‘90s character, Sheneneh (below). She then discussed how when she was in school, a white classmate came dressed as the character for Halloween and how hurtful that was.
Hall also said that when creating content, it’s important to have more than one Black person on your creative team and that requires doing the work ahead of time to make sure diversity is represented long before the creative process even starts.
And fourth, how can you ensure accountability?
You might want to stand up for Black Lives Matter, but the proof is in who you hire, who you recruit, who you develop and who you promote.
Registrants to the Promax Virtual Experience can watch this session on demand at promax.org.