BLM response: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

13.5% of permanent staff are BAME.

BLM response: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

New initiatives

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we asked our staff to use Juneteenth [19 June] as a day of reflection.

Our staff were encouraged to take the knee for the eight minutes and 46 seconds it took George Floyd to die, as we felt it would be a useful starting point for our staff to reflect on the injustices that occur within society. 

Our agency leadership recognised that not everyone would be aware of the cultural stimuli staff might require to help them to reflect. So, we provided them with material detailed below so they had a basis to begin their reflection.

The watch

Panorama: “George Floyd: a killing that shook the world”

The listen

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Reni Eddo-Lodge was at Google Summit last year and she is an outstanding voice of her generation

The read

"Why being black feels so overwhelming right now" 

The do 

The extra watch

13th: A Netflix documentary on the history of systemic racial prejudice in the US and the catastrophic cycle of successive presidents and their approach to the institutional prison system.

Stephen: the Murder that Changed a Nation on BBC iPlayer

The extra listen

The 1619 Project: A narrative podcast by The New York Times examining the legacy of slavery – it’s also a haunting multimedia initiative which began in August 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary. 

The extra read

Natives by Akala 

The extra do: consider honest reflection on the following:

  • Do I actively look for faces that are not like mine to be sitting in the room?

  • Do I listen to them once they’re there? Do I dismiss their opinions and worldviews as not valid because their experiences don’t reflect mine?

  • Do I open the room to frank discussion, without instilling fear or fearing to say the wrong thing? There’s no wrong thing to say, discussion is always welcome, healthy and necessary for mutual growth.

  • Do I engage in active discussion about arguments that make me uncomfortable? Do I challenge my notions about the world by posing other people’s as an alternative?

  • Do I search for movies, TV shows and books that speak of other experiences? 

  • Do I read history outside of the one that was handed to me by the white British establishment?

  • Have I spoken to black and brown friends and family about what’s going on? Have I reached out and listened to what they have to say?

  • Do I have black and brown friends and family? If not, have I done enough to engage with people different from myself?

  • Do I actively look for talent from a minority group? 

  • Do I dismiss black and brown talent before giving them a chance?

In addition to the above we asked our staff to complete a survey which asked the following questions:

  • What can I do to support and amplify black people and other multi-ethnic groups in my community?

  • What steps can I take to help dismantle systemic racism and contribute towards eradicating it?

  • What steps will you take in speaking out on racist behaviour in the workplace and the wider community?

  • What is the single most important change you have made (mentally and/or practically) relating to the ongoing police brutality faced by black people which has amplified the BLM movement during the pandemic?

  • What's the single most important action you think the agency should take to help dismantle systemic racism?

  • Do you believe BLM will help create a more successful multicultural society in the UK? (Score 1-5)

We had a great response rate, and the themes and actions that emerged were the following:

  • Educate/learn – through talks on black history, create an education programme for staff/clients, materials available at the office, internal comms and D&I programme, and reverse mentoring.

  • Act – communicate honest updates to the business on actions, support protests and marches, run industry events and be the leaders, review and change our processes for inclusivity.

  • Listen/support – create safe spaces for discussion and feedback, provide emotional support. 

  • Speak out – challenge each other, including clients and suppliers. Use our platform as a top agency to lead the cultural change and to be vocal.

  • Recruitment – review processes and rebalance. Create representation at all levels.

  • Give – to charities, time through volunteering, mentoring and coaching, pro bono work for the cause, internship/work experience programmes.

Existing initiatives

2020 marks the seventh year we’ve partnered with SEO London to help us attract BAME talent.  We have hosted several open evenings over the past few years that provide insight into careers in advertising.

Over the past few years we partnered with Debut and intend to continue to use their platform to send talent spot notifications to their database of over 100,000 students, graduates and undergraduates.

We will continue to participate in the IPA’s Advertising Unlocked event.

We will continue to host events during Black History Month to aid the transfer of knowledge and education of black culture.

Recruitment: We removed biographical data and names from CVs and scholar recruitment forms. We will continue to push our recruitment partners to provide us with diverse talent.

Mentor scheme: When new joiners start at the agency, we ensure that our BAME talent is partnered with other BAME employees via our agency mentorship scheme. 

Apprenticeships: We were part of the IPA working party that spent 18 months developing the advertising and media executive standard. We were also part of the working party that developed the new junior creative standard.

By developing and participating in these schemes, we believe we can help increase the BAME talent within our industry.

Diversity in production: We’ve worked with Mars and other clients on several initiatives to showcase diversity in our work and we are currently in the process of expanding this so that we engage with all our clients.  At the heart of our new D&I charter we want to ensure that not only do we create ads that better reflect society, but also ensure that casting, filming, editing etc takes place in an environment which embraces diversity and inclusion.

BAME pay gap

As there is no uniform calculation this isn’t something we have attempted to calculate to date.

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