It’s time for action

It’s time for action

Industry issues
2 minute read

WFA CEO, Stephan Loerke, explains why our industry must address diversity and inclusion in the content it produces as well as internally as matter of urgency.

Article details

  • Stephan Loerke

    CEO, WFA
Opinions
30 June 2020

This year has been tumultuous for many of us. But amid all the hardship that Coronavirus has caused, what heartens me is that the need to address the challenges of diversity and inclusion has become so much more urgent. 

It’s happened not just because  Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups have suffered most from Coronavirus but also because of the tragic death of George Floyd in the US, which has reignited global concern about the way many societies treat their diverse communities.

Much of the challenge is structural and requires a new approach at all levels of our industry. Our Global Diversity Ambassador Belinda Smith recently highlighted how failures on diversity and inclusion are often revealed by programmatic buying practices, for example.

The contrast between the urgent pause in advertising around other incidents and the #BlackLivesMatter movement is something we should all reflect on deeply and our Diversity & Inclusion taskforce will be setting out the steps we can take to improve.

Many brands are considering whether they should appear on platforms that fail to take appropriate action on race hate. The WFA wants to work with the platforms to improve these environments but society demands action and change must happen quickly.

Our industry needs to work hard itself.

Research released this June by the Cannes Lions and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media shows that progress in terms of the representation of women and people of colour in ads seems to have stalled and that other groups, such as the LGBTQ+, are even more marginalized in some of the world’s best creative.

We know that brands can be a force for good and that consumers expect them to help create a better world. Our diversity taskforce will be defining more steps we can take alongside those already outlined in our Diversity and Inclusion guide. And together with the UN Women-led Unstereotype Alliance we will work with the industry to develop tangible accountability mechanisms that support the structural drivers of equality and inclusion, as announced in our recent joint call to the industry.

For Cannes LIONS Live I recently spoke to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women as well as chair of the Unstereotype Alliance, about the role that brands can play in changing society for the better and increasing the pressure for change.

Her words and her experiences of fighting Apartheid alongside Nelson Mandela in South Africa should act as an inspiration to us all for how we can drive progress.

Article details

  • Stephan Loerke

    CEO, WFA
Opinions
30 June 2020