SSD: What do you hope to accomplish as you continue in the field of Marketing?
EB: I hope to continue doing what I can to open more doors for Black and underrepresented professionals to work in the financial services industry and tech sector in all roles, including leadership positions. In order to do that, I would like to continue to join conversations through external publications & events – and mentor to encourage others that look like me to know they have options to go beyond what they might have thought was possible.
There is so much power in illustrating and sharing experiences. I’ve always found that if Black people had more representation in financial services, it would be effective in achieving equity since the sector has control over capital and assets that yield outsize power and influence over markets, the business landscape, and entrepreneurship.
SSD: You mentioned that your industry isn’t that diverse in one of the earlier responses…
Do you find that your being Black helps you, adds barriers, or doesn’t make a difference at all in your role (and why)?
EB: Being Black within my industry allows me to help others make inroads within the industry. I personally think being Black helps move the needle in terms of hiring, funding, and mentorship to ensure that minorities have exposure to get in front of decision-makers.
I co-wrote an article for Fast Company in 2020 that highlights why diversity is so important, and [it also] outlines what will need to continue being done to move the needle.
SSD: Are there any networking organizations or approaches to networking that you’d recommend to Black professionals wanting to successfully make inroads in your field?
It is also important to set time aside to read. As a marketer, I’m always reading a variety of different publications (i.e., NYT, WSJ, Fast Company, INC, Ad Week, and more) and following the latest on pop culture through social platforms. Understanding trends and the market is essential to being tapped into what consumers want and need.
SSD: Let’s switch it up for a bit…
I know that you love to travel, too! Has your work shaped any of your outlook on your travels? It’s ok if it hasn’t – I’m just curious if it has. And if so, in what ways?
EB: I LOVE TRAVELING! I would say that working with a diverse group of people from around the world, specifically in Europe, changed the way I approached travel. In Europe, there is more of a work-life balance and more excitement around taking your vacation. Since [I started] working in a globally distributed environment it has pushed me to do more, see more, and enjoy life – never taking it for granted. Life can’t be solely about work.
SSD: Do you have any heroes in the world of Marketing? If so, who? I’m curious who you look up to.
EB: One marketer who I’ve admired a lot, especially this past year, is Dara Treseder. She [currently] leads marketing for Peloton. Since she took on the role, I’ve seen a lot more emphasis within their marketing around community and leaning into community. I appreciate that her marketing background is diverse.
SSD: Jumping back into the brass tax of things – How can I phrase this?
Do you feel companies have a responsibility to police what images & messaging they put out there in their marketing, or do you think it’s best to openly be creative and leave the interpretation up to the court of public opinion? And why?
EB: I feel mixed about this.
Do I think it is important to censor certain information, like hate speech? Absolutely. Hate speech is extremely dangerous to society, and we’ve seen that over and over again through school shootings and other unfortunate incidents within our society.
However, I do feel it’s important for companies to be openly creative and leave certain things up for interpretation without it causing harm to others.
SSD: Given your work and your view of certain industries, do you feel like there are some large companies who are accomplishing diversity in their marketing more correctly than others? If so, any favorites that you care to share?
EB: Absolutely! I love Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line. The way she embraces all complexions, she truly changed the way a lot of major lines approached beauty for people of color. Also, I love Peloton’s ‘Together Means All of Us’ campaign. They’ve done a great job to ensure their brand is authentic and inclusive — aligned with health and wellness.
SSD: Good to know. I’m familiar with Fenty, but I didn’t know about Peloton’s campaign. I’ll need to look into that. My favorite recent initiative was Procter & Gamble’s ‘Widen the Screen‘ work.
SSD: Ok, this is the last meaty question for you, EB…
EB: I’m ready, JW.
Do you think that hashtag-adopted activism movements (e.g., #BLM & #ICantBreathe, etc.), and the marketing/commercialization around them, are fundamentally beneficial for the causes of Black People in this country? Or do you think those actions somehow diminish the message in the eyes of non-Black America?
EB: I think they are beneficial for Black people as they help us get a better sense of what people care about and help us stay connected to the “right” people that align to those values.
With the digital transformation, it’s difficult to keep up. So, in order to cut through the noise and focus on what you care about, such as becoming an activist for causes and issues you believe in, the right hashtag helps. It helps the movement, as it allows for activists to tag relevant content, raise awareness on social issues, and create momentum. When something like #BLM is in your face every day, it’s hard to not take notice and decide how you are going to help the movement. So, for me, it doesn’t diminish the message – it helps amplify it and ensure it continues to stay in the forefront.