Diana Marszalek 28 Jul 2020 // 11:53AM GMT
NEW YORK — Two employee-led organizations advocating for diversity in the PR and advertising industries have formally joined forces, creating a united front in their effort to hold agencies accountable for racial inequities — and push for change.
The merger of Hold the PRess and the ad industry’s 600 & Rising creates a movement more than 3,800 people strong, a group of both Black employees and non-Black allies bound by their common goal of having PR, ad and marketing agencies answer demands aimed at disassembling systemic racism in the communications business.
Hold the PRess, which has garnered more than 300 petitioners, is lobbying the industry to come clean by July 31 in terms of providing the number of their Black employees, including executives; accounts that are Black-owned businesses; and diversity & inclusion action plans. Agencies that have not shared their diversity data and action plans to diversify moving forward will be listed on the group's website beginning in August.
Launched in June by four Black women who work in PR — Sade Ayodele, Nysah Warren, Fatou Barry and Enoma Owens — Hold The PRess was created in response to agencies' early responses to recent civil rights protests, which organizers called “tone-deaf and out-of-touch messages on their social media channels as a sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.”
600 & Rising, meantime, has called on the ad industry to answer 12 demands aimed at diversifying agencies including committing to improving Black representation at all staff levels including leadership; tracking and publicly reporting diversity data on an annual basis; and auditing policies and culture to ensure equity and inclusion. WPP has committed to taking all 12 of those actions, including publishing the diversity data for the company as a whole.
Hold the PRess will operate as an extension of 600 & Rising, maintaining its focus on PR agencies. According to the Harvard Business Review's analysis of the federal labor statistics, the public relations industry is 89.7% White, 8.3% Black, 2.6% Asian and 5.7% Hispanic or Latinx.
“Hold the PRess has always been about truly holding the public relations industry accountable for its lack of diversity,” said Ayodele. “By collaborating with 600 & Rising, we are able to bring a cohesive front to advertising and public relations and be coordinated in the steps toward meaningful change for Black talent. We’re looking forward to working together to make progress a reality.”
Ayodele has been named to 600 & Rising's board of directors as the PR agency relations chair. The remaining founders will assume roles on 600 & Rising's PR agency relations committee.