Talking Diversity And Equality In Advertising With Belinda Smith

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Belinda Smith is fed up with the all-talk-no-action stances taken by corporate America when it comes to systemic racism.

It’s time for action, transparency and accountability.

“Corporations have been making noises about this conversation for a very long time,” she said. “They have pretty much exhausted those PR stunt-type efforts. Speaking out means you have to prove it.”

As a marketing executive most recently with Electronic Arts, Belinda has lived through too many empty promises to improve advertising’s severe diversity problem. She’s working with the World Federation of Advertisers to launch a diversity task force that will set an example for global brands looking to navigate conversations about race – and make a meaningful impact.

“We are trying to be the change that we want to see in the world,” she said.Belinda smith diversity

Brands shouldn’t avoid speaking out about race issues because they’re afraid of a backlash. Instead, they can prepare their teams for that backlash and learn from it.

“When you say nothing, or you halfway say something that’s kind of muddled, we know where you stand,” she said.

Belinda is participating in the national conversation sparked by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery from her home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, with her husband and young son.

“I haven’t been to any protests because I’m just afraid,” she said. “I’ve spent my whole life avoiding the police at all costs.”

While she’s hopeful that change will come this time, she said it’s the responsibility of non-black, non-marginalized minorities to make that change happen.

“I really view what’s going on now as the work of everyone who’s not black,” she said. “You all built this system, and now you have to fix it.”

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