Black lives matter. Black lives are not marketing material.

by Team Motley on

The vocal response from consumer brands to the murder of George Floyd, now, has surprised us. Not because it is not an abhorrent atrocity and indictment of endemic racism within the US police force. But because it is nothing new. Not in the US, and not in the UK either. Three months ago, when Breonna Taylor was killed by police while sleeping in her bed, brands weren’t posting about this.


Some of the British brands speaking up now have never commented on systemic racism, whether in the police force or more broadly, before this week. 


Before then, calling out systemic inequality has been the reserve of the brave. Lush could have been marketing soap. Instead, it condemned police behaviour in window displays they were asked to take down long before black tiles popped up on news feeds. Ben and Jerry’s were a solitary voice supporting Black Lives Matter four years ago at Ferguson, and have never shied away from speaking out. Will the brands entering the conversation now commit to ensuring Black Lives Matter long term, once the cameras have turned elsewhere and the hashtags stop trending? 


Whilst speaking out is important, one-off tokenistic words of condemnation are very easy. Long-term deeds of affirmation are harder work, and have a lasting impact. At Motley, we have always believed that taking a stand against racism must be systemically institutionalised across our practices. We are a young brand, so we ask ourselves this question on a near daily basis: what kind of business do we want to build? And in this specific moment, how can we ensure Black Lives Matter at Motley as much today as in a few months or years?


We do not believe in reactivism but we recognise moments in history have the power to create lasting change. So we have used this one to examine what we do to amplify black and other underrepresented voices at Motley, and within our broader industry. 


We have set out a plan to ensure that we do not just ‘comply’ but start to become an agent of sustainable, long-term change. We’ve made a series of commitments to hold ourselves accountable to. Accountable throughout the year and across everything we do, when the media attention has waned but when the inequalities persist.  


This is our promise.


We will keep doing the following: 


  1. Have an equalities statement as part of our application process
  2. Use relevant, non-alienating and appropriate language in recruitment
  3. Pay the London living wage for internships to improve access
  4. Be representative across our social media channels using models of all races, ages and genders
  5. Be representative across our website using models of all races, ages and genders
  6. Recruit brand ambassadors of all races, ages and genders 
  7. Acknowledge the subconscious biases and institutional advantages our founders have benefited from as white women, who will continue educating themselves on those subconscious biases and institutional advantages
  8. Uphold our equal opportunities policy 
  9. Ensure that the charities we work with benefit underrepresented communities  
  10. Ensure any events we run have panels and speakers that are representative of all races, ages and genders

We will start doing the following: 


  1. Proactively recruit from underrepresented and minority backgrounds, working with third parties to do so 
  2. Proactively recruit interns from underrepresented and minority backgrounds in our upcoming recruitment round, working with third parties to do so
  3. Work with our third party agencies to ensure they have policies in place to proactively foster talent from minority backgrounds
  4. Participate in equality campaigns throughout the year, not just when media attention spotlights them 
  5. Partner with charities that improve access to the arts for groups underrepresented in the arts
  6. Systematise our collection of media assets to ensure those they are representatives of all races, ages, and genders
  7. Mandate unconscious bias training for new joiners
  8. Include literature around systemic inequalities as part of our employee book group
  9. Work with charities and third parties to deliver learning activities to employees throughout the year 
  10. Institute equal parental leave for men and women 
  11. Move to a fully accessible office by 2021

On our book list 


Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge

Slay In Your Lane, Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené

Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, Akala 

Small Island, Andrea Levy

Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams

The Good Immigrant, edited by Nikesh Sukla 

Girl, Women, Other, Bernadine Evaristo

Your Silence Will Not Protect You, Audre Lorde

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

White Teeth, Zadie Smith  





Other posts