Unlearning systemic racism is hard. So much of bias is unconscious and unintentional, picked up from a lifetime of subtle messaging from school, work, family and broader culture. But it’s not impossible, on a personal or corporate level, and this year’s 3% Conference aims to set attendees on the path to unlearning their inherent biases.
When the first 3% Conference launched in 2012, its primary mission was to tackle gender inequality in the advertising industry. In order to do that, founder Kat Gordon realized, industry leaders needed clear, actionable steps they could take. In 2013, Gordon drafted a list of 50 Things the industry could do to raise the number of women creative directors up from the low single digits; that list quickly became 100 Things, and was followed by similar lists of things faculty and leaders can do to retain moms in the workforce.
This year, the conference kicks off with a new approach and a brand new list: 50 Things to Create a More Anti-Racist Workplace. Gordon co-wrote the list with 3% Movement’s design director Saata Bangura and communications director Nancy Vaughn, and will announce it to attendees Monday during her opening remarks. In addition, 3% is launching a social campaign that will spotlight specific recommendations from the list.
So what are the 50 steps the industry can take to be more anti-racist? There are many, but No. 1 is written in bold: “Appoint Black leaders to your C-Suite. Full stop. Nothing will change your ecosystem faster.”
Some of the steps on the list are familiar: appoint a diversity and inclusion leader; publicly and repeatedly state your company’s stance on racism and equality; use social media to amplify Black voices. Much of the industry is on its way to fulfilling at least those few steps, following the reckoning on racism brought on by June’s Black Lives Matter protests.
But other recommendations on the list show that the industry still has far to go. This year’s 50 Things list says that every ad agency should transparently publish the diversity makeup of its workforce, alongside future goals and steps to meet those goals. Another item says that each workplace should have a response to “naysayers who claim the workplace is a meritocracy and/or colorblind.”
Recognizing that anti-racism is a lifelong pursuit, Gordon said the 3% Movement will be “inviting the world to share even more ideas with us in response.”
“The idea is to have this be a living document that can grow as companies and individuals discover how they’re successfully confronting racism in their midst,” Gordon said.
This year’s 3% conference, titled The Radically Inclusive Future of Work, runs July 27-29 online and is presented by Adobe. Speakers will address social justice and inclusion, as well as employee wellness with regard to how the Covid-19 pandemic has altered workplaces, ushering in a new work-from-home reality for the corporate world.
To increase accessibility, the cost of tickets for the entire 2020 conference has been lowered to $99, or $33 per day.