Advertising Age reported on yet another mentorship program invented to spark diversity in Adland—this one from the Black Executive CMO Alliance (BECA). Of course, major corporate sponsors are on board, undoubtedly offering tax-deductible support. Yet it all begs the question as to why there are so many mentorships, but no significant progress with representation figures. Clearly, mentorships can’t beat dictatorships.
Black Advertising Execs Launch Mentorship Program
The new ‘BECA Playbook’ program will offer 25 Black marketers coaching, experience and networking opportunities to propel their careers
By Ethan Jakob Craft
The Black Executive CMO Alliance today announced a new two-year mentorship program for up-and-coming Black marketers that represents one of its first concrete steps toward furthering the ad industry’s diversification since the group was established earlier this year.
Called “The BECA Playbook,” the extensive program will offer its inaugural class of 25 mid-career Black advertising professionals one-on-one coaching with C-suite leaders, networking sessions with many of the world’s top Black marketers, and custom-curated learning experience to fill gaps in the participants’ résumés.
More than a dozen companies have signed onto BECA’s new mentorship program to lend support and resources, including General Motors, Deloitte, Starbucks, ViacomCBS’s BET and WPP-owned agency GroupM.
Pay it forward
“The BECA Playbook embodies one of our four pillars—pay it forward—to which our members and sponsoring organizations have wholeheartedly shown their commitment. In supporting our mission, they have committed their time and resources into building a stronger pipeline of Black leaders ready for the C-suite,” said BECA founder Jerri DeVard, whose career has included chief marketer roles at Citibank, ADT and Nokia.
The foundation of the alliance is rooted in four key pillars: “Share, learn, elevate, and pay it forward,” DeVard told Ad Age at the time of BECA’s launch.
Helmed by DeVard, BECA was established in March with a class of 26 Black creative leaders as the group’s founding members, including Netflix’s Global CMO Bozoma Saint John; Unilever executive Esi Eggleston Bracey; and Mars Wrigley’s North American President Anton Vincent.
Lack of representation
Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and multiracial individuals are still systemically underrepresented in the U.S. ad industry, according to the fourth annual diversity report from the Association of National Advertisers, which was published last month.
Black Americans, in particular, hold just 6.6% of the roles at ANA member companies, despite making up roughly double that percentage of the national population.
But the report did show some year-over-year progress: 13.7% of chief marketers say they’re a race other than white, up from 12% in 2020; the same is true for senior-level employees, with industry-wide diversity up to 28.5% from 26.4% last year, as well as those at the entry level, with diverse workers now comprising 33.1% of that sector versus 31.9% in 2020.
“This report reveals that [the] marketing industry is making important strides toward improving diversity among our ranks at all levels,” Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA, said in a statement. “However, it also shows that we still have work to do to achieve a truly diverse balance in our workforce,” he added, urging the group’s members to continue to pursue fair and equitable workplace representation.
More information about the group and its new “BECA Playbook” program can be found on its website.