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‘The Changemakers’ celebrates the achievements of Black marketing, media & advertising talent

By Aimee Pearcy | Journalist

November 24, 2022 | 9 min read

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B&BAN partner with BRiM to launch ‘The Changemakers’ awards program designed to challenge the perceived lack of Black and Brown talent ready to lead in the UK media industry.

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B&BAN and BRiM worked together to recognize and celebrate Black members of the industry doing extraordinary work

The Black and Brilliant Advocacy Network (B&BAN) has partnered with Black Representation in Marketing (BRiM) to launch ‘The Changemakers’, an awards initiative designed to challenge the idea that there is a lack of Black and Brown talent ready to lead in the UK media industry. There is a gap between reality and perception. Changemakers show that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not.

In an attempt to close this gap and seize the opportunity to move from good intentions to meaningful actions, B&BAN and BRiM worked together to launch ‘The Changemakers,’ to recognize and celebrate Black members of the industry doing extraordinary work and in some cases working against many odds. Scroll down to see the full list of winners.

“We wanted to spotlight and showcase Black and Brown talent in the UK media because we feel it’s an area that lacks visibility,” says Perky Noah-Effik, head of operations at B&BAN. “We had really great outreach through our networks and through word of mouth.”

Data from the Advertising Association’s 2021 ‘All In’ survey shows that Black representation in the industry is 3% – significantly less than the 11% Black working population. In C-suite positions, it drops to 1%. The survey also revealed that one-third of Black respondents planned to leave the industry within two years due to a lack of inclusion.

Such a drastic lack of diversity within the industry means that marketing is helping to perpetuate stereotypes and systemic bias. To make meaningful changes, organizations must steer away from tokenistic gestures, and seize the opportunity to harness the power of brands to foster a more diverse and inclusive society.

How to turn good intentions to meaningful actions

The birth of BRiM, is centered around turning good intentions into meaningful actions. It’s a cross-industry initiative launched in 2021 to improve the representation of Black people in marketing and is supported by The UK Advertising Association.

BRiM is powered by a group of the world’s largest brands and agencies (including Wunderman Thompson, Meta, Publicis Groupe, TUI, VCCP, Publicis Groupe, Pepsico and more), leading members of the Black community, and industry diversity, equity, and inclusion experts. Its research has discovered that while 70% of marketing professionals understand the need for fairer Black representation, more than 40% of professionals have not made any decisions to increase Black representation in the past 12 months. Enter The Changemakers - BRiM’s partnership with B&BAN.

Advocating for positive change

B&BAN is an advocacy group working to create a more diverse workforce by advocating positive change into every boardroom. It aims to celebrate, inspire and connect by providing networking opportunities and supporting Black, Indigenous, Asian, and minority ethnic communities.

The group was founded in 2020 by husband-and-wife team, Perky Noah-Effik, an entrepreneur and current head of operations at B&BAN, and Tony Effik, managing director at Google and adjunct professor at Columbia University.

The group discovered very early on that the biggest hurdle for many Black professionals was making it through middle management. They called this ‘Breaking through the middle.’ They also identified four key building blocks to an anti-racist diversity and recruitment agenda more organizations should adopt:

  • Diversity in recruitment

  • Culture add, not culture fit

  • Internal mobility

  • Supplier and partner diversity

Over the past couple of years, they have sought to overcome these hurdles by working with major advertising and technology organizations to connect them to talent, mentors, and mentees and organized networking events.

Earlier this year they partnered with Codecademy to train over 150 data scientists as part of a tech career accelerator program for underserved groups. They have also worked with BuzzFeed to spotlight Black talent through a partnership called ‘Get to Know.’

“We want to carefully watch this list of winners over the next few years to track what we call their ‘career velocity’. Based on their credentials, experience, and grit they should soon be holding very senior positions in the industry. We want the industry to know they exist, and respond to their talent,” states Perky Noah-Effik.

Spotlighting Black talent in UK media

The awards selection committee judges involved a wide range of Black industry leaders, some with lengthy tenures, including global experience at noteworthy media companies. They all hold great insights, and a shared focus on community based initiatives to help close the gap for Black and Brown professionals. They include:

  • Justin Copeland-Thomas, president & chief executive officer at DDB North America, and DDB WorldWide
  • Marvyn Harrison, chief growth officer at BELOVD Agency, and founder at Dope Black CIC

  • Kamiqua Lake, founder & chief executive officer at Coldr and UK Black Comms Network

  • Natalie Trye, global program lead at Meta

  • Tony Effik, managing director at Google

  • Elfried Samba, head of social at Gymshark.

As part of The Changemakers, people were able to nominate themselves, a colleague, a friend, or a family member for one of two categories: ‘Emerging Leader’, and ‘Senior Leader’. Candidates were judged against several criteria, including expertise of the industry; internal, community, and industry awards and recognition; being bold and taking on new challenges; inclusive leadership, and community engagement through activities such as volunteering, advisor roles, trusteeships, board roles. Resulting in a wonderful array of British talent.

The Changemakers Award Winners

Senior Leaders Category

Asher Gordon, global digital partner at Dentsu X

Deborah Womack, partner, marketing transformation lead financial services

Nick Smith, executive vice-president, formats at all3media International

Yolande Battell, executive vice-president, client management, Jellyfish

Yaw Owusu, creative consultant

Annika Allen, head of DE&I at All3Media & co-founder of the Black Magic Awards

Shannon Walker, founder & chief executive officer at Social Disruption

Deborah Williams, founder at The Women's Association

Louis Persent, creative director & co-founder at Weirdo

Sacha Owusu, PRO account director at Mediacom

Tobi Asare, business development director at OMD UK

Gerry Anyanwu, founder of The Uncommon Collective and client development director at Global

Sherice Anibaba, head of brand at Speedo

Emerging Leaders Category

Dereck Maruma, account manager at Tapin

Ria Chin-You, head of CRM at News UK

Chanelle Harrigan, data strategy associate director at Essence

Kenny Dada, account director at VCCP

Lemarl Freckleton, senior content manager & art director

Lucy Daramola, client partner lead at Microsoft

Naomi Smith MCIPR, account manager at Ketchum

Bonita Samuels, senior associate director, creative systems lead at Mediacom

Josh Akapo, co-founder & head of strategy at Archtype

Bianca Hamilton, senior manager, UI visual designer at Deloitte Digital

Mercy Abel, communities manager at John Doe Group, podcast creator & host

Liseli Sumbwanyambe, junior associate at McKinsey & Company

Alicia Emejulu, senior creative producer at Girl & Bear, co-founder Mother of all Media UK

Claudine Grant, campaign designer at TUI

Rianna Woods, art director, Wunderman Thompson UK

The Drum readers will have the chance to learn more about these trailblazers in part two of this series - The Changemakers Winners. Going forward, the ambition for B&BAN is to turn The Changemakers into an annual event and celebration. Find out more about The Changemakers, the winners and the people involved.

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BRiM is a cross-industry effort to create long-lasting change when it comes to Black representation in marketing. It is steered by senior leaders from a number of top brands and agencies, along with Black leaders, DEI experts and the UK Advertising Association. It focuses on moving all marketers from good intentions to meaningful actions, giving them the tools and scalable initiatives to do so.

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