POCAM asks the industry to pause its social media performances

On the anniversary of George Floyd's death, the organization tells brands and agencies to instead focus on action and contemplation.

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May 25 is the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of a police officer on the streets of Minneapolis.

It seems inevitable that companies will try to commemorate the day in some way, and with the best intentions. But as was seen last year when companies posted “black squares” to Instagram, those kinds of efforts beg the question: so what are you doing about it? It’s really easy to make a social post, but have you done any of the hard work at making the changes your organization pledged to do?

Early this morning, People of Colour in Advertising & Marketing posted across its social channels in anticipation of this. The organization preemptively asked brands and agencies alike to pause any “performative” posts they might have scheduled for today to instead have an honest, hard look at what they have actually done to address systemic racism within their walls. That’s something especially important to consider today, when Black employees will be dealing with the trauma of being reminded of police violence against Black people on top of taking on diversity and inclusion efforts at their companies.

“Today, we ask our industry – brands and agencies – to pause and reflect rather than rushing to fill the news cycle with virtue-signalling performative statements,” the caption on one of the posts reads. “Instead, ask what you have done for justice in the last year? Ask if it is enough. How did you support your Black employees and colleagues over the last year? What are you doing to support them on this tragic anniversary when this wound is rawest? What are you doing to remove the pervasive systemic racism in our industry that BIPOC professionals suffer?”

Ultimately, the post serves to remind advertisers and marketers that it will be fine if they don’t force their way into today’s public conversation, so long as, internally, they are having the conversations that will help them answer the questions POCAM – along with other organizations and BIPOC working in the industry – have posed.

Though not referred to in the post, POCAM has its own tools for agencies to track their progress on tangible steps towards addressing systemic racism in the industry, updates to which it plans to announce in the near future.