Amid million-dollar commitments to racial justice and diversity hire initiatives, agencies have been hosting and participating in panels to address racism. While some of these discussions have been fronted by Black and non-Black people of color, some have not, causing controversy within the business world of who can—or should—have a voice in these panels.
One panel in particular, featuring Brad Grossman, CEO and founder of Zeitguide, and Cindy Gallop, CEO and founder of IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn, attempted to address this issue head on, but without any people of color present on the panel also exemplified the very issue they were seeking to tackle. The discussions by Black leaders that followed pointed to how Black people shouldn’t have to bear the burden alone of educating white colleagues on racism, but their viewpoints should be present for a meaningful discussion.
Grossman, who hosts a Culture Class series that aims to “keeps leaders smart, culturally relevant and inspired to rebuild the future,” asked Gallop to join his latest session, “How to End Racism, Sexism and Ageism in the Corporate World.” Gallop, who is one of the leading advocates in the ad industry on those topics, sparked a heated back-and-forth ahead of the session with Piers Fawkes, founder and editor in chief of research and events company PSFK. Fawkes did not think Gallop was qualified to headline the session, even with her ample experience in brand-building and in championing social justice, because the panel lacked someone who was Black to give a first-hand view of the industry’s problems.