Diana Marszalek 05 Jun 2020 // 1:55PM GMT
NEW YORK — As civil rights protests continue into a second week, Weber Shandwick has pledged to put $1 million in resources toward fighting systemic racism in addition to making other changes across the organization.
“I am writing to the global population of Weber Shandwick because every single of one of us – in every city and every country – must pay attention to the brutal and unconscionable murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others in the United States,” president and CEO Gail Heimann wrote in an all-staff note.
“We must stand with the black community. We must listen and absorb a reality that is shaped by a long history of acts of hate and lives lived in fear. And we must change,” she said Thursday night in advance of the firm’s closure of its North American offices, as well several others, today to “pause, to process and participate in ways that feel right.” Parent group IPG's corporate offices also are closed today.
In addition to pledging $1 million in pro bono services to organizations fighting racial inequality, Heimann said Weber Shandwick will be increasing its own efforts to attain diversity and inclusion, including benchmarking progress; making a donation to the National Urban League; and will join parent company IPG in making donations to Campaign Zero and Amnesty International.
Heimann’s commitments come after a week during which agencies have grappled with responding to protests, and calls for sweeping reform, across the country sparked by George Floyd’s murder. Diversity pledges and supporting employees through offerings such as forums and mental health services are among the steps agencies have taken so far.
The full text of Heimann’s memo follows:
I am writing to the global population of Weber Shandwick because every single of one of us – in every city and every country – must pay attention to the brutal and unconscionable murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others in the United States.
We must stand with the black community.
We must listen and absorb a reality that is shaped by a long history of acts of hate and lives lived in fear.
And we must change.
We must change the way we work – in meaningful and measurable ways – within Weber Shandwick.
And we must use the power of our thinking and influence – and deploy resources – to help change the relentless pattern of systemic racism and intolerance in the United States and beyond.
I am committed to do both. Beginning immediately.
This week we listened; we opened a dialogue with our colleagues in North America about racism, discrimination and the persistent mistreatment of and violence against black people. Our colleagues bravely shared their own experiences and stories. We began a series of wrenching, emotional and important conversations that we will continue. For a very long time.
Tomorrow our offices in North America – along with several others around the world – will take a day to pause, to process and participate in ways that feel right.
Then, we start on the path to making change – by making commitments:
We are committed to increase the diversity of the Weber Shandwick population – at every level – and to truly shape a culture of equity and inclusion in our workforce – including professional development, training, mentorship, sponsorship and recruiting. We will hold ourselves accountable; we will set benchmarks and we will share our progress.
We are committed to shaping our future inclusively. We will create a cross-regional “action team” comprised of members of our current North America DEI committees and passionate colleagues. This team will have the authority and the resources to shape our policies and initiatives – to ensure that inclusion is at the center of how we operate – every day, everywhere.
We are committed to doing our part to make societal change. To start, we are allocating 1M in resources to work in partnership with organizations that fight against racial inequality and injustice. Our team will select an organization – or two – for which we can make the most significant difference. And we will make this work a priority for the firm.
We are committed to supporting people and organizations who are fighting against hate and for change. Our firm will make a donation to the National Urban League and will join IPG in making donations to Campaign Zero and Amnesty International.
This is the beginning. There is much more to be done. And said. We will do more. And we will add ideas and detail. But we need to start now.
Others – our own colleagues and pundits – have mentioned that it is critical that we not let this be a moment in time. Not let this be a brief chapter in history.
Please join me in committing the thinking, the time, the energy – please join me in committing to do our part to start to change the course of history. The work we do to help, the role we play to get there could not be more important.
Thank you in advance. And, as always, take care.