—It is Black History Month, and every day this month, The Message will be sharing short profiles of Black professionals from across the industry: marketing, advertising, PR, media and production. Written by POCAM members, the profiles are a way to “fight invisibility,” an exercise in representation for an industry where representation must get better—
Christine Scott, chose to be in marketing in order to change what it meant to be a woman in business, challenge the status quo, and create an environment of creativity, discovery and innovation.
As a Black and South Asian woman, the industry’s realities presented themselves to Scott in a much different way. “I was often the only POC in the room, and my opinions and lived experiences were often discounted as being too sensitive and unrelatable” she said.
Her leadership style, which prioritized empathy and individualism, and focused on empowerment, was criticized as weak and ineffective. “While I did not agree with the majority of the judgements bestowed upon me, I did not have an advocate or a full understanding of the institutional bias I was working within,” she said. “So, like so many of those before me, I stayed silent and endured.”
It took 25 years of professional experience, and a harsh personal reckoning following the murder of George Floyd, for Scott to find the confidence to acknowledge that her value did not lie in the scoring system assigned to her by those in charge. “My power was being the person in the room that younger BIPOC could model on, by empowering the people around me to use their voices, and to leverage my senior position to advocate for underrepresented ideas,” she said.
Last year, Scott founded The Accomplice Project, an independent consultancy offering operational business and creative strategy to any brand, agency or organization looking to solve business problems with equitable and “anti-racist” solutions.
She now works collaboratively with her clients to audit and establish strategies that allow businesses to maintain and increase profitability, while decolonizing their practices. It’s equal parts you should do it, as much as how to do it.
The Accomplice Project focused her attention and expertise on building coalitions for change instead of building campaigns that reinforce bias and stereotypes. She surrounds herself with other under-represented titans and contemporaries who also double as her mentors. “We find strength in our growing numbers and offer support to our peers” she says, “We open employment pathways for young talent, and support each other in our individual pursuits.”
Using our influence as an industry to create lasting change is at the core of her work. “Our industry has power,” she says. “It can influence culture, start or stop trends and amplify revolutionary ideas. It is for these reasons that the work to decolonize the world of marketing and communications must continue. Companies that recognize the need for equity, and do the work to properly dismantle oppressive structures, will be positioned for success. The question to ask yourself is will you be ready?”
This POCAM BHM 2023 profile was written by Aleena Mazhar, SVP, managing director, partner at FUSE Create, and a steering committee member of POCAM.