Pete Lerma, founder of the Lerma Agency, recently chaired a panel called Is Your Brand Faking It?
that pinpointed messages and actions favoring diversity and inclusion (D&I), and recommended that brands do the right thing in that regard.
“The commitment to change, even beyond the financial aspect, starts by studying one’s business with internal audits and then doing what it takes to make the necessary improvements," Lerma said.
He recommended that in terms of communications, authenticity must be the goal. "If Black Lives Matter is not your thing, find out what your clients and consumer base care about and give them your support," Lerma said, adding that a brand’s messages will put that support into action. "And finally, make sure to keep it up over the long term, because among the young people the expectations created by these messages are not going to disappear." He was accompanied in the event by Trey Green, digital strategy manager at The Richards Group; SMU student and freelance photographer Chase Hall; Alex Hinojosa, art director at Commerce House; Nora Rahimian, creative consultant and VP at INTL BLK; and Carlos Sierra, Mexican businessman.
A controversial topic discussed by the panel was that of donations. "Giving money is the surest thing a brand can do. If all goes well, you get a tax cut, but you don’t actually have to do anything, you don't have to change your internal structure or your external relations with consumers or audiences," said Rahimian. Green, however, said that in making these financial commitments, brands need to consult diverse leaders with different perspectives who might not agree with that concept. He added that the important thing is to be responsible and show in detail how that money will be spent.