POCAM launches tool to track progress toward industry equity

People of Colour in Advertising and Marketing has created a new tool to help employers in marketing and advertising track their progress toward creating more inclusive and equitable workplaces.

The Call for Equity Progress Tracker is being introduced one year after POCAM first released the Call for Equity in the weeks following the murder of George Floyd. The Call for Equity included specific actions employers could take to combat systemic racism and increase diversity and representation across the industry.

There were 12 actions for agencies or supplier organizations, including making specific, public commitments to improve BIPOC representation at all levels, provide bias training, create diversity and inclusion committees, and diversity review panels to stop the spread of stereotypes in advertising.

There were three additional actions for client organizations relating to ensuring their agencies are committed to diversity and representation.

The new online tracking tool lets signatory organizations sign on to provide self-reported updates on specific goals in a transparent manner. POCAM said the tracker is meant to both celebrate progress while also providing support and encouragement to those organizations that have not yet made much progress.

When someone registers, they are provided with a form asking them to provide their name, role, agency and LinkedIn account, which is then verified by POCAM before access to the tool is provided. The tool features the commitments, with users given various options to respond: “not started,” “planned start date,” “intend to complete in 3 months,” “intend to complete in 6 months” or “completed.”

For the first two commitments that ask for a public commitment, the user is asked to provide the public URL featuring their response—such as a diversity report, or their public commitment to equity.

While more than 100 organizations have signed the Call for Equity, the list is dominated by agencies, with Campbell and Labatt the only two large brands that have signed on. “There’s nothing to stop more clients from signing the Call. It’s still open and will remain open until we dismantle racism, and equity becomes the norm,” said Gavin Barrett, co-founder and chief creative officer of Barrett and Welsh, and part of POCAM’s Call for Equity operating group. “There’s a telling indicator in POCAM’s Visible and Vocal study: BIPOC professionals working client-side experience even more micro-aggressions and discrimination than their agency side counterparts.

“In anti-racism work, we often see the phrase ‘silence is violence.’ Every marketer should be concerned that the brands they manage may be seen as guardians of inequity and systemic racism.”

For POCAM, real change means more than a statement of support and posting a black square to social media.

“Signing a commitment like The Call for Equity can easily be used as a form of virtue signalling,” said Joshua Richards, technology director at Klick Health, and POCAM’s project lead for the Progress Tracker, in a release. “We wanted to develop a tool to help the industry self-report and hold itself accountable for the actions they committed to.”

“The launch of our Call for Equity Progress Tracker is the first real measure of change in our industry,” said Ishma Alexander-Huet, vice-president of client advice and management, head of learning and culture at Initiative media, and also part of POCAM’s Call for Equity operating group.

“We know it takes more than a year because this is about lasting change. So no company should be claiming a perfect score [or] believe their work is done. But our community will now know which companies are being authentic, and at the very least we can take that into account when deciding which organizations should benefit from out talents.”

The introduction of the Tracker also reflects the growth and emergence of POCAM as leading voice on race and representation in Canadian marketing and advertising. When the Call for Equity was issued, POCAM was only a few months old and had less than 200 members.

In the year since, it has grown to more than 1,000 and in May it officially achieved status as a not-for-profit organization, and added seven new members to its steering committee: Aleena Mazhar, partner, VP, managing director at Fuse Create; Chantae Allick, chief writer at Adventures in Storytelling; Chino Nnadi, talent acquisition specialist at MetaLab; Ishma Alexander-Huet, VP, client advice and management head of learning and culture at Initiative; Joycelyn David, owner and CEO of AV Communications Inc.; Leianne Vergara, associate creative director at Klick; and Darian Kovacs, founding partner at Jelly Digital Marketing and PR Agency.


David Brown