Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
As a result of recent tragedies and a confluence of events, racial injustice has once again become a real-time, national conversation. The dialogue and movements taking place this year are just as important as any in our country’s history, at all levels of government and across the public and private sectors. Many companies, like McKinney, have made statements in the last couple of months denouncing the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others while committing to education and driving lasting change. As we each use this inflection point to evolve on a personal level, it’s become clear that we need to be more overt and collaborative to create real progress in a professional context — systemic change is needed to overcome systemic problems.
At McKinney, we’ve been working toward becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive company for the last few years. What started as informal conversations between a handful of employees turned into more formal programs with accountability. Initially, we established a partnership with North Carolina Central University, an HBCU only a couple of miles from our Durham headquarters, where we’ve been teaching classes, hosting advertising competitions, and mentoring students. Next we created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team — largely comprised of company leadership — to audit where we stood and develop a plan moving forward. This led to the formation of an external advisory board, made up of accomplished professionals from myriad industries and academia, most of whom are people of color. This group has been meeting quarterly to provide advice, assess progress, and facilitate meaningful, and often difficult, conversations with McKinney’s leadership.
Also, importantly, a little over a year ago, some of our BIPOC colleagues created an employee resource group called Chroma, with the goal of supporting multicultural employees and contributing to diversity education within McKinney. This team has been critical in shining a light on diverse points of view, facilitating discussion — both in person and on our #unpackingdiversity Slack channel — and ensuring that the leadership team is aware of ongoing challenges and opportunities.
All that said — we still have a long way to go.
Having discussed our internal needs with Chroma and the McKinney leadership team, and following advice from our external advisory board, I feel energized and prepared to build on our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. To start, we’re going to respond to the call put forward by SIX HUNDRED & RISING and take steps to help “rebuild the industry into a better version of itself.” I acknowledge that the challenges that BIPOC employees face within our industry are systemic and I’m committed to doing my part to change that. In particular, it is critical that we strive to employ more Black people on our leadership team and throughout our creative department, as these are two areas where a more diverse point of view is needed and will have the most sustainable impact. Below you’ll see the current demographic makeup of McKinney, which is our baseline as of today.
In order to provide more access for Black people looking to break into the industry, we’re sponsoring ONE SCHOOL, an online portfolio school for Black creatives. The program is free for the students, who will learn from some of the top creatives in our industry, with a focus on Black tutors, lecturers and mentors. Throughout the semester, there will be considerable effort on networking and job placement, which is of course critical to drive real change.
In addition to the steps above, McKinney is committing to the following:
- Creating a new leadership position — Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion — and hiring a person of color in this role by Q4 2020
- Adopting an approach to recruiting for leadership positions whereby we will focus more intentionally on identifying BIPOC prospects for these important roles
- Ensuring that BIPOC candidates account for at least half of all finalists for any open position
- Mandating that all McKinney employees — current and future — take part in implicit bias education
- Updating our gender, race, and ethnicity data quarterly and sharing publicly on our website
- Compiling a database of BIPOC directors and other production partners to ensure representation in all bids and outreach to third-party companies
- Proactively sourcing and vetting BIPOC creatives in order to establish a talent pool for potential full-time positions and freelance needs in the future
As our commitment to change is ongoing, I have no doubt the above will evolve and grow. Living into diversity, equity and inclusion is one of our company-wide goals for 2020 and will continue to be prioritized in our management plans each year. I’m looking forward to accelerating our progress and impacting systemic change.