RJE January Meeting Recap

Accelerating Change in 2021 

Our first meeting of the New Year was supposed to be filled with joy that we could finally put 2020 behind us and anticipate all the good things we will accomplish in 2021. But that meeting came a day after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. capitol, and instead of enthusiasm for the year ahead, we started off by sharing our fears and disappointments in yet another example of inequity and division in our country.   

We had candid conversations about our concerns and used it as fuel to move us forward in delivering on the plan we put in place last year. Here are some of the areas we covered in January: 

  • Education is a big component of our work, and we’re continuing the journey with our RJE Speaker Series. We’re bringing in experts, thought leaders and trailblazers every other month to lead a conversation about equity issues impacting our community and industry. We were lucky enough to land Tanya Blackmon, senior vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at Novant Health, as our first speaker and will share what we learn from her in a future post.  
  • We’re set to kick off our partnership with the 4A’s Foundation and its Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP), which strives to connect diverse talent to the marketing industry. This summer, LGA will have a MAIP fellow join our agency for a 10-week internship experience. Since MAIP has confirmed it will be virtual, we’re looking at ways to ensure we provide a welcoming and engaging experience that will set our MAIP fellow up for success. At the same time, we’re continuing our efforts to develop an internship program with Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte’s only HBCU, this summer. 
  • We have a team of people digging in to develop our plan to increase staff diversity and track progress in our agency. We’re also working on a supplier-diversity initiative to ensure inclusivity among the vendor partners we work with such as printers, producers and photographers. These are longer term programs that require a deeper look at our processes and practices, but we’re working hard to move the needle. 
  • Keeping up with our Think Justice blog and finding topics to share the parts of our journey or industry developments that will be meaningful to our readers is no easy task. But our team has some great updates in the works – from Q&As with interesting leaders to our take on racism in artificial intelligence to what we’re reading right now.   

Even with the progress we’re making, we continue to challenge ourselves. This month, the questions we asked: are we engaging the whole agency as much as we can? Are conversations happening beyond our task force meetings and the chatter on Slack? How can we add more voices to our Think Justice blog? We recognize that we can do more to be sure everyone who wants to engage does and that we allow space for more dialogue, especially in smaller groups such as team meetings and one-on-ones.  

Despite the chaos that kicked off 2021, there’s hope in the work that can be done this year. We can’t lose sight of why we’re here, and we’re ready to accelerate the progress.