Change Doesn’t Just Happen — We Must Make It Happen

— Kass Sells, Global COO/President of International 

This was originally published on LinkedIn on June 3rd.

I am deeply saddened and angered by recent events in our country. As I watch these events unfold each day I continue to be struck with the question, what can I do to help?

First and most important, my heart goes out to the family of George Floyd and all the victims whose lives have been taken or damaged by acts of racism and injustice.

Let’s be clear — Black Lives Matter, and we cannot accept unjust killing. The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others reflect deeply ingrained racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in our country today, but we owe it to each other and to our communities to be very clear in condemning these acts of violence.

Over the past several months, throughout this coronavirus pandemic, we’ve often heard and said, “we’re all in this together.” Ironically, that’s never been more true than it is right now. If we are going to fight racism it’s something we all have to do, as individuals and together as communities and as a nation. We must acknowledge our country’s racist past, and understand that together we can build a better future — a future where everyone contributes and feels valued.

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about what I can do to help. To my fellow communications professionals, I humbly offer the following actionable ideas:

  • Check in with your Black colleagues and employees. Ask what you can do to help and support your co-workers. Prepare yourself to listen a lot more than you speak.
  • Get involved with your organization’s employee resource group (ERG) for people of color. At WE, ours is WE PRISM. If you don’t have one, start one!
  • Connect with your clients. Proactively reach out and counsel your clients to put their money where their mouth is, and to back up statements about D&I with investments in D&I. I’m seeing great examples from brands like Microsoft, Lululemon and Netflix. The outstanding responses from Intel, Glossier and others should be a model for all of us.
  • Pledge your support and financial commitment to organizations that create opportunities for communicators and marketers of color. I sit on the board of The LAGRANT Foundation, a great organization providing scholarships to people of color in the advertising, PR and communications fields. And WE works with both TLF and ColorComm, another organization seeking to improve diversity and inclusion in our industry, and one which our WE CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin sits on the board. Groups like these can use your support. Please give to either, both, or to a local organization in your community.
  • Your actions speak louder than your words. The biggest thing your organization can do is to employ more people of color that represent the communities where we live and work. It’s pretty simple: Recruit, Interview and Hire more qualified Black people and people of color. Support more Black-owned businesses. Work with more Black and minority-owned vendors. Make people of color a part of your daily business operations.
  • Work together. The best work and the best relationships have come when people of different backgrounds, races, religions, genders and nationalities come together around a common goal. It’s more than just a seat at the table — it’s a voice at the table.

Personally, I know I need to do more. I need to give more people of color opportunities. I need to do more to celebrate our differences. I need to reach out more, educate myself, ask questions that make me uncomfortable and really listen to the hard answers. Our Global CEO and Founder Melissa Waggener Zorkin shared a Maya Angelou quote that I’m finding useful as I think about the work I need to do: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

We can all learn, and we can all do better. Let’s get there together.


For more on WE’s commitment to anti-racism, read Global CEO and Founder Melissa Waggener Zorkin’s statement.


Image credit: dIMG_2373 by Becker1999 / CC BY 2.0