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BAM's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commitment

101 Black Tech Titans 2021

A letter from BAM CEO Beck Bamberger:

 

At BAM, we believe stories move the world and we move stories forward. But the current events and discourse in our nation over the last months have had us seriously question for whom we tell stories.

Following George Floyd’s unjust death, I thought about what it means to be a White female leading a PR and marketing agency in a time when only now the injustices against Black men and women are finally becoming a true part of our national discourse. In that process, I realized that BAM’s problem is that while we tell stories, we haven’t done enough to tell everyone’s stories.

If we look inwards at our industry, the PR Industry is currently 87.9% White, 8.3% African-American, 5.7% Hispanic-American, and 2.6% Asian-American. The 2020 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey revealed that a staggering 88% of the 3,883 respondents identify as White, with just 4% identifying as mixed race, 5% as Asian, and 2% as Black. We have a problem as an industry and when looking inwards, I realized we had a problem as a company, too.

We’re changing that. I, along with the rest of the BAM team, recognize that we have a part to play in elevating all voices. Over the last few months, our team has been discussing our successes, shortcomings, and most importantly, where we want to go. Outlined below are the concrete Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) steps we’ve committed to taking at BAM in the months and years to come in order to move the stories of diverse and underrepresented people forward. Our goal is to hear, share, and celebrate stories less-told because all stories must be told in order to truly move the world forward. 

Every company, every founder, and every venture capital fund needs to understand that the time is now to make changes. Not because you have to or want to, but simply because it’s the right thing to do. We hope our commitments listed below will inspire others to do the same.

BAM's DEI Commitments

  1. 1. Education. Everything starts with education and at BAM, education is ongoing. We’re committed as a team to host monthly 1-hour DEI training sessions with the help of external experts trained in running DEI initiatives.
  1. 2. Representation. While the United States is becoming more diverse, the PR and marketing industry is nearly 90% white. Currently, BAM is 72% White, 12% Latinx, 8% Black or African American, 4% two or more races, 4% Asian American as of July 2020. To ensure all stories are told—including those told by BIPOC—the BAM team will represent the diversity of America within the next five years if not sooner. We are diversifying our applicant pool by changing our methods of outreach, networking more intentionally outside of our known groups, so that we can have a more representative staff. In addition, all owned content including our blog, social media channels, podcast, and more will showcase at least 40% BIPOC or LGBTQAI voices, effective immediately.
  1. 3. Opportunity. Unpaid internships are a privilege and reinforce the racial wealth gap. In order to provide access to those who may not be financially able to complete an internship for school credit only, all internships at BAM are now paid internships.
  2. 4. Community. DEI efforts don’t start and stop internally at BAM. We want our team to be active allies in their communities and industry at large. 
    • Pro-Bono Work: BAM will allocate a portion of our PR resources each year for pro-bono partnerships with companies that empower BIPOC and LGBTQIA voices. BAM is now representing BLCK VC, an organization committed to the representation of Black investors at venture funds. 
    • Events. BAM’s office space in San Diego and NYC will be used, free of charge (and has been), for any non-profits or student groups supporting BIPOC and LGBTQIA initiatives. At least one event a quarter will be held in each office space post-COVID.
    • Engagement. Account Directors and up, including those on the Executive Team, will select a group he/she/they will actively participate with and report to in quarterly Community Engagement meetings.
    • BAM Book Jam. BAM will host a quarterly series of readings from diverse authors once a quarter. Our latest Book Jam featured Arlan Hamilton, the author of “It’s About Damn Time.”
  1. 5. Clients. Who we work with matters. New clients not actively participating in DEI training will be asked to instate some form of DEI training or education within 6 months of working with BAM. For our existing clients, we expect the same. Within 6 months of January 1, 2021, they are expected to implement some form of DEI training or education. We are here to provide frameworks, ideas, and connect our partners with experts to kick off or strengthen their DEI initiatives.
  2. 6. Leadership. Change comes from the top. We understand that our executive team is responsible for setting an example for the rest of the team. Each executive team member will commit to their own DEI learning:

Beck Bamberger, CEO:

“Many CEOs claim that they don’t have the free time, but really, you just have to make time and make DEI learning a priority. My first step was to complete a DEI certification course by Cornell. Now, I’m starting my PhD from Pepperdine in Global Leadership and Organization Change by 2024 with coursework focused on DEI. I’ll be reporting quarterly back to the team on the coursework and progress I make, so the entire company can benefit. 

In addition to education, I’m committing time to volunteer. I’ll be focused on completing 100+ hours as a Crisis Text Counselor and an additional 10-hour training on navigating the anxiety and stress of racism. In lieu of election season, I’ll be getting 10,000 letters out to registered voters to encourage them in the 2020 election as a founding member of Political Pen Pals in partnership with Vote Forward by election day.“

Jill Veglahn, Head of People:

“As Head of People at BAM, my focus is not only our people but how we’re fostering an ethos of inclusivity for our existing team and for the new faces who join BAM. Education is the first and best step towards fostering a more inclusive workplace. I’ll be participating in monthly DEI training with Collective, a 7-week LinkedIn course on DEI, along with completing a Co-Active Training Institute Coaching Course by Q4. I recently found and enrolled myself in a 30-day course called #dothework from Rachel Cargle, which is designed to be 'an eye-opener and a call to action for those who seek to be allies to Black women. I’ll also be reading one book per quarter on anti-racism, beginning in Q4 (through 2021) starting with 'Stamped from the Beginning.'

In terms of active action, I’ll be participating as a panelist/host with the Pod Save the Rest of Us podcast for their mini-series SOLID ALLY. I’ll be collaborating with Cut50, a bipartisan effort to cut crime and incarceration, to expand their efforts to underserved youth in under-resourced communities. Lastly, I’m partnering with an organization called Two Wings that empowers survivors of sex trafficking and those at risk of being trafficked to identify and pursue their dream vocation through mentoring programs, life skills classes and career training workshops. I’ll be bringing my HR skills to the participants of this program by teaching interviewing and resume skills.”

Mike Melvin, Chief Revenue Officer:

"As Chief Revenue Officer at BAM, I want my focus to be more than just the bottom line. And as a leader at BAM, I’m interested in so much more than making our business profitable, I want BAM to thrive. One of my personal values is learning, so I’m taking a 4-month course at SDSU on Management and Leadership. We are learning conflict management, increasing emotional intelligence, and leading in the face of change. I believe that the more I build my emotional intelligence muscle, the more capable of a leader I become. A leader who welcomes difficult conversations specifically around the complexities of race and identity at work. I also get to work alongside our Head of People as she continues to expand our DEI efforts, which allows me the opportunity to share my voice and experience as we continue to grow our DEI program and evolve our program into our company ethos.” 

Lauren Heneveld, Vice President:  

"I’ve spent 14 years working in Public Relations and it's become glaringly obvious to me that we aren’t doing enough to diversify our industry. In my role as Vice President, one of the things I love most is mentoring and developing our team. I aspire to be the kind of mentor and leader that models the behavior I am asking of others. I am participating in a 10-course program called Safe Zone Project, designed to provide foundational LGBTQIA understanding and inclusion by the end of Q1 2021. I plan to incorporate my learnings into my leadership at BAM. Along with our Head of People, I participated in a 30-day course called #dothework from Rachel Cargle, which is ‘designed to be an eye-opener and a call to action for those who seek to be allies to Black women.’ I am also enrolled in a 4-week course ‘Becoming an Anti-Racist Leader’ and I participate in BAM’s monthly DEI trainings. I’ve committed the month of October to support National Bullying Awareness Month and I’ve committed to monetary donations to 12 anti-bullying/LGBTQIA non-profit organizations over 12 months. I am committed to expanding my awareness and knowledge, and to seeing that translate into the leadership and ethos of BAM."

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