“Paint done.” The need for greater allyship in the creative industries

May 19, 2021 in Insights by Melody Lynch

A conversation I had the other day caused me to start ruminating again on allyship, what that looks like, and how important it is to continue to move toward diverse representation of BIPOC voices in our local communities and beyond.

“Paint done,” as Brene Brown has said, is a phrase I’ve kept with me for years. One that helps me visualize the end state, and then the long-term goals and the tactics to reach that. We have a long way to go before we reach any kind of end state in terms of equitable representation in the communications and marketing field, and beyond. And if we’re honest, there will always be more to be done.

But if we visualize that end state, what that looks like, and each take personal responsibility and appropriate action to get there, we can guarantee we will leave this world, and our industry, in a better place than we left it.

So what is allyship? In a nutshell, it’s creating spaces for marginalized peoples to be heard. But that doesn’t do it justice. It’s also helping to ensure those voices are listened to. To be a good ally, I know I need to listen to understand, act on what I learn, and step aside to give those a platform to share their own stories and lived experiences. And then, when appropriate, amplify those voices of marginalized groups. It requires vulnerability, commitment to action, and a humble approach.

BIPOC individuals are grossly underrepresented in communications and marketing. The majority of professional communicators specifically are white women. As one, I have the privilege and space that I can leverage to help raise up others so more of their stories are heard.

A recent study called “Visible & Vocal,” undertaken by People of Colour in Advertising and Marketing (POCAM), states:

“More than 80 per cent of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour working in the advertising and marketing industries have experienced microaggression in the workplace, and 30 per cent have reported negative mental health impacts from workplace experiences. These are just some of many disturbing findings of a recent survey on the impact of racism in Canada’s creative industries.”

We need to do better, and we need to be better allies.

Ben Borne and I, in part, founded SymmetryPR, a majority-Indigenous owned business, to help do just that – help to lift up Indigenous and other BIPOC voices. We call on others to advocate for BIPOC individuals in the workplace and support their career journeys in the creative industries so that we can become stronger together – as peers and colleagues – and as communities.

One specific way we’re able to contribute is through our expertise in media relations. Being powerful storytellers with the inside know-how of how to amplify those stories is an incredible skill set and a rewarding aspect of the work we’re privileged to do.

So I challenge you to look at your values, your preconceived notions, and opportunities for actions you can take to become a great ally and to help create more inclusive, diverse and responsible communities.

The learning never stops.