We have been moved by the coverage of senseless acts of racism in the United States and the understandable protests they have prompted. Omnicom stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. With this in mind, we are recognising June 19th, or Juneteenth, as a company-wide day off from work to reflect and engage on this global issue. (Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 that marked the end of slavery in the United States.)
For more than a decade, our parent company Omnicom has supported and invested in a number of educational and career development programs that have created greater diversity in our industry. These include AAF Most Promising Multicultural Students Program, The LaGrant Foundation, 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Intern Program and ADCOLOR. We plan to strengthen our support of these programs, adopt new programs where appropriate and hold ourselves accountable in the areas of training, recruitment, talent development and retention, and compensation. Our entire leadership team is committed to accelerating our efforts to build a more inclusive, diverse and aware organisation.
At Specialist we will be taking time out to collaborate with this mission and give space for reflection and positive change. To mark the occasion our agency team have also curated a number of personal inspirational, educational and thought-provoking perspectives for us all to take on board.
Rugby Union Weekly ‘Race and Rugby’ (https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08gh94p)
Featuring some of the biggest names in English rugby, including Maro Itoje and Anthony Watson, all the guests and Ugo Monye, the regular host, speak brilliantly about their experiences being black men playing and growing-up in rugby, but also beyond the sport.
A personal recommendation from a Specialist: “Whilst rugby is the central theme, the conversation is much broader and looks at personal experiences outside of sport. Anthony Watson speaks fantastically about the experiences of being mixed-race and middle-class, and these are experiences I can relate to, viscerally. Experiences such as telling racist jokes at my own expense for the amusement of my white friends and how I accepted that to be normal, or even something to be proud of. Watson describes a time when a black team-mate called him out for making such as joke and how, after talking it through, it completely changed his perception and he’s not done the same since.”
“Unfortunately, I never had that person to call me out – my father, who grew up as a black man (classed as an ‘Indian’) in apartheid South Africa, passed away when I was 15 and would most certainly have educated me – but I had always been riddled with guilt after making the jokes and it has certainly meant I’ve internalised any pain or anger I’ve felt towards examples of subtle racial injustice for fear of someone saying “you’re not really black, though” and, terrifyingly, I felt I would have to accept that because I’d said it about myself to fit in, or get laughs.”
“This period has been confronting on a number of levels – from the heart-breaking video which launched the campaign, to seeing some horrible exchanges on social media, and then challenging myself to become more accountable – and braver. But it has also been comforting to see the response of so many of my friends and colleagues – their strength and courage is something for me to build upon.”
“Here’s hoping this time will bring about some real, actionable and measurable change. My personal opinion is that change should start with education. Teaching children from an early age the true, uncomfortable truth of Britain’s role in shaping the world we know today – not in a negative way, but in an honest way.”
The Black Power Mixtape https://mubi.com/films/the-black-power-mixtape-1967-1975
I Am Not Your Negro https://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Am-Not-Your-Negro/dp/B071WSVYD6
Time: The Kalief Browder Story https://www.netflix.com/title/80187052
Da 5 Bloods https://www.netflix.com/title/81045635
A House Through Time https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09l64y9
Eric Ngalle Talks To Peter Florence https://www.hayfestival.com/p-16793-eric-ngalle-charles-talks-to-peter-florence.aspx?skinid=16
When They See Us https://www.netflix.com/title/80200549
Dear White People https://www.netflix.com/title/80095698
A personal message from a Specialist: “Me at the age of four as a child in Germany. My best friends were Oz and Stephan. We were the three amigos. Inseparable. Children don’t see colour. We have a duty to teach our children this fact.”
A parent’s guide to Black Lives Matter
A clear, simple yet powerful message for young children
Sign the petition to include white privilege and systematic racism as part of the national curriculum
Donate to these organisations (not exhaustive):
Disclaimer: Thanks to the Specialist team for their contributions. This content collection was curated with an attitude of helpfulness by our fellow colleagues.