When I wrote an Adweek article recently, raising awareness for #StopAsianHate, I put out a call to action for my industry to not just care—but to act. So, what has happened in the meantime? A lot. And none of it good.
Between then and now, 40+ anti-Asian hate crimes were recorded across the United States.
Six women were killed in a mass shooting in Atlanta, fueled by racism.
A 65-year-old Filipino woman was brutally beaten outside of a building in New York while security guards literally closed the door on her.
And last but not certainly least, a Japanese American Olympic athlete was verbally harassed with anti-Asian slurs while training in a California park.
And the racism fueled hatred continues…
How has the advertising industry responded?
Brands have come together to post images, messages, and statements condemning this latest wave of violence against my community.
Nike, a brand I am proud to have worked for, went so far to pledge a five-year roadmap to increase diversity.
But is this enough? No. it’s not.
While much of the #StopAsianHate conversation has now reached levels of mass awareness, many of the issues furthering the systemic racism against Asian-Americans continues to be within corporate America – where many of us work.
Out of 219 C-level executives and board members at the 10 largest U.S. public companies, there are only two representatives from the Asian American community.
Asian Americans are continuously excluded from diversity slates in hiring, especially in the Bay Area. In hiring practices, for instance, Asian Americans are not included as a ‘diverse’ community. Asian Americans are treated as a monolith and those nuances are rarely acknowledged in hiring, with little regard to the many different communities—from East Asian to Southeast Asian to South Asian and more.
Across many brands Asian Americans and these nuances are still not included in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) trainings, which are largely considered a binary practice: Black and White relationships only.
Let’s bring it home.
I come before you today as a fellow marketer in the Bay Area, and one that represents the Asian American community. The community violently attacked in the streets of Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. The community historically marginalized, and often treated as silent and raceless in our offices.
It was in the Bay Area where white colleagues consistently told me they never saw me as Asian, but another White person. Thinking that was okay and congratulating me for assimilating.
It was in the Bay Area where I was consistently mistaken for IT support, an engineer, and not a fellow marketing executive.
It is in the Bay Area where I’ve been told by recruiters and executive search firms to my face that brands are looking for non-Asian marketing executives because Asian Americans are ‘already everywhere’.
The Bay Area, where we pride ourselves in our progressive values and free thinking.
The Bay Area, my home, where, in all of my travels, I have faced the most racism in my life personally and professionally.
Do I have your attention now?
We, as marketing executives and professionals in the Bay Area have the opportunity to right these atrocious acts I’ve witnessed so others will not have to. We have so much more say than other marketers in other cities given the progressive nature of our brands.
We must demand more action. Now.
Don’t know how to act or what to ask for?
Donate and promote donations to non-profit organizations like LAAUNCH.org, Hateisavirus.org, and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Donate your skills to these nonprofits to help them raise more awareness, revamp their websites, and use the skills that has made you so much money but for good. It doesn’t take long to help plan media buys for non-profits, or copy write for them. Your skills are valuable.
Donate your presence by signing up for https://compassioninoakland.org/ to be a chaperone and walk the elderly home as they were the first targeted by this violence and hate.
Lastly, use your voice: Spread the word about #StopAsianHate, and speak up for your coworkers. In a time where everyone says ‘allyship’ and literally no one knows what that means, doing something concrete is a good starting point.
And the work must continue
I’m here to tell you that your efforts to be more inclusive, to stand with those marginalized, and to fight for equality as an industry that loves to pride itself in its diversity will not end.
There is no end state, because we’ll forever be asked to evolve. Rightfully so.
So do the right thing, and again, I don’t just want you to care. I want you to act.