industry update

Dismantling Racism: Our Commitment

August 11, 2020


Diversity is not a new idea at Heartbeat. Since our inception, we have endeavored to be a community of leaders and allies in the ongoing fight for equality. But we recognize that we still have much more work to do.

At this pivotal juncture in our culture, our communities, and our country, it is crucial that we make our intentions and—more importantly—our actions explicit and measurable.

We must more deliberately identify the continuing oppression and violence experienced today by Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color (BIPOC). The workplace is a realm in which lasting harm has been done—and continues to be done—to communities of color, and we have an urgent responsibility to rectify this harm through purposeful, timely, ethical, and radical change within our walls and within our industry.

Thus, we commit to you—Heartbeaters present and past, our clients, our peers, and our industry—that we will use this moment as an opportunity to step up, be more transparent, listen, act, and, when appropriate, lead. We commit to working harder and more effectively toward our goal of dismantling the structures of racism that show up or exist at Heartbeat.

Here’s how we plan to do it.


Broadly, the advertising industry’s diversity lags behind the population of the United States. As of 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the following diversity statistics1 for the advertising, public relations and other related services industry:

83% White
12% Hispanic/Latinx
8% Black/African American
6% Asian/AAPI

Heartbeat is proud to currently be outpacing several of these industry averages for our BIPOC staff, yet we are still setting ambitious targets for our future.

New Hires
While we continue to improve, we’re proud to say that our new hires have been more diverse* in the past 2 years than ever before, with diverse candidates making up 46% of all new hires in 2018 and 45% in 2019.

In 2020, 56% of year-to-date promotions have been earned by diverse employees, with 26% of all promotions specifically going to Black Heartbeaters.

In senior roles, Heartbeaters are 40% diverse at the Director level (a 9% increase over 2019) and 30% diverse at the Group Director level (an 11% increase over 2019), with overall diversity at 30% across all roles at the Director level and above.


We believe that the Heartbeat community should look like the community we call our home—New York City—and we commit to continuing to diversify our staff’s racial composition to turn that belief into a reality.

It is an ambitious goal relative to our present efforts, and well beyond the racial homogeneity of today’s advertising industry. Yet it is a goal that we believe to be achievable through diligence, inventiveness, and aggressive outreach to candidates and partners, critics, and community leaders.

The goal to which we pledge ourselves is that the Heartbeat-of-the-future will have a community that is:

22% Black/African American
22% Hispanic/Latinx
14% Asian/AAPI
42% White

Beyond the overall agency composition, we shall also pursue more diverse representation in leadership roles. While we’re proud to note that 2 of our Vice President promotions this year were earned by Black Heartbeaters and that we’ve increased diverse promotions by 11% in 2020, we must continue to invest in career advancement for and mentorship of our diverse talent, until our senior positions are as diverse as our general Heartbeat population.


In 2019, Heartbeat implemented a 5-step plan for diverse recruitment and career development. We’ll build upon our existing plan, adding new goals and benchmarks for each phase.

1. GET EVERYONE INVOLVED: Creating an anti-racist work environment is our shared responsibility. Accordingly, everyone at Heartbeat will complete mandatory annual anti-bias training, and new-hire onboarding will prominently feature diversity and inclusion efforts. We’ll also continue to fund, uplift, and make space for programs focused on racial justice within the Heartbeat community, including our internal Dismantle Racism Team, heritage months, business resource groups, “Brave Space” meetings, mental health resources, and education sessions, among other initiatives.

2. DEVELOP RACIALLY DIVERSE TALENT: We commit to a deliberate focus on the careers of our diverse talent, from salary equity reviews to career advancement tracks. We’ll increase our existing allocation of resources specifically toward development opportunities for diverse Heartbeaters, including conference participation and continuing education. And we will proactively ensure our diverse talent has opportunities to shine, including more substantive participation in the direction and realization of the agency’s growth.

3. FOCUS ON RACIALLY DIVERSE RECRUITMENT: We commit to using a wider variety of sources for recruitment. Specifically, we’ll leverage Black talent platforms, foster deeper relationships with HBCUs and Black student unions, and source from programs like MAIP and Year Up. We’ll continue holding career days and diverse Mix & Mingle nights for potential hires. We’ll promote our referral program for diverse friends and peers of Heartbeaters and publicize our openings more widely. Finally, we’ll work with hiring managers to address bias, and support hiring trainable people with unique backgrounds and high potential, rather than seeking out cookie-cutter candidates.

4. ELEVATE OUR EFFORTS EXTERNALLY: We’ll continue to amplify anti-racist causes in our public-facing communications. We’ll leverage our social media presence to highlight advocacy efforts, coverage of internal anti-racism work, and inclusion initiatives. We vow to continue to address racial justice and publicly push for progress within our industry across all communication channels.

5. EXTEND OUR OUTREACH: Through our Worldbeat program, we’ll continue to donate to and raise funds for local and national organizations that uplift BIPOC and work for racial justice. We’ll continue supporting and advocating for volunteerism among Heartbeaters, and we’ll promote our donation-matching program more frequently and visibly. We also commit to supporting BIPOC businesses and vendors whenever possible.

These steps are just the beginning.

We stand with Black Heartbeaters and with all Heartbeaters of color.

We hear you, we see you, and we invite your feedback.


Reference: 1. US Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Labor force statistics from the current population survey. Accessed July 27, 2020.

*For the purposes of this letter, “diverse” specifically refers to Heartbeaters who self-identify as Black, indigenous, and/or other people of color, including people who identify as multiracial.