On Diversity, Equality and Justice

On Diversity, Equality and Justice

To say that the past few weeks have been heartbreaking would be an understatement. But from where we sit, they’ve also been transformational. Maybe the biggest change brought about by the reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movement is the understanding (finally) that it is not just a protest or a moment, but a rightful claim to equality centuries in the making. And that many of us have been unconsciously culpable in denying that right.
We have struggled to look beyond our horror and outrage at the murder of George Floyd—along with so many before him—to find an authentic way to contribute to that transformation.

IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO POST. TO PROTEST. TO DONATE. IT’S TIME FOR ACTIONABLE, SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.

In the now, we’ve been inspired to examine what we are doing—and not doing—to be a part of the solution. While always well-intentioned, we recognize that we can do better to combat institutionalized racism and unconscious bias.

NOW IS THE TIME TO PUT IN THE WORK THAT’S NEEDED, NOT JUST THE WORK WE WANT TO DO.

So as individuals, and as a brand, we are making a multi-tiered commitment—and we intend to post, on a quarterly basis, what we have done to fulfill it. We will hold each other accountable, and ask the same of you, our friends, family, clients and peers. As a mentor of ours once said, “people respect what you inspect.”

WE MUST GO BEYOND AWARENESS, TO AN AUTHENTIC ACTION PLAN.

Since launching Metalmark, we have always strived to work with people and brands that align with our core beliefs and values. But having those values is only useful if we are willing to stand up for them—and stand up to those who challenge them. Here’s how:

1. Over 6+ years, we have been fortunate to work with some amazing entrepreneurs, including women- and minority-owned businesses. But we can, and will, be more proactive in seeking them out, because people of color regularly encounter racism and bias when looking for financial backing and support.  Going forward, Metalmark will reach out to these entrepreneurs, via community and diversity-focused business organizations, to help them build their brands in a cost-effective and meaningful way.

2. Another avenue for change is local and national elections. We will only donate to and work with candidates and officials who align with our core values. That includes actively seeking out candidates to become involved with, on a deeper level than just financial donations. Our litmus test for any candidate will be: support for social justice, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights; and a commitment to work towards an end to institutional racism.

3. We will also use our voices, and our platform as a branding and design agency, in more powerful ways to advocate for social justice, and eliminate unconscious bias and institutional racism. What does that mean? Being aware that we have much to learn and taking the steps to learn it. Refusing to work with those who have no wish to learn it. And, more visibly, speaking out on social media and other platforms to educate others; act as a sounding board when needed; and challenge peers and the industry at large to follow suit.

As agency partners, Americans, a parent, an uncle, siblings, and mentors, we owe it to ourselves, our families and our community to act.  Thanks in advance for holding us accountable and sharing our journey.

Richard Degnan & Karin Myint

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