Havas Chicago, an advertising and marketing firm, wanted to give their employees the chance to experience what it’s like to be “black at work” with the #BlackAtWork Campaign.
According to AdWeek, just in time for Black History Month, Havas Chicago wanted to show not only its employees but the people of Chicago what it’s like to be black in an ad agency.
A team of employees created an obstacle course in the lobby of the building, and each aspect is designed to educate participants about what black men and black women experience in the workplace. The obstacle course also serves as a way to start conversation on the lack of diversity in the advertising agency.
Jason Peterson, the agency’s chief creative officer, said “I love reading these articles about how white and old the industry is, and the industry itself acknowledges and talks about the problem versus actually changing and activating on the kind of issues we have,” Peterson said. “In my point of view, America is multicultural, so if you’re an agency that doesn’t have or isn’t made up of a multicultural point of view, there’s no way you can do your job properly.”
Peterson asked for the help of Jason LaFore, an art director at Havas Chicago, and a few employees and asked “to come up with something that’s going to show our point of view and not be passive and have a real active positioning,” in honor of Black History Month, Thus #BlackAtWork campaign was created.
As reported by AdWeek, “Each idea in the ‘Jobstacle course’ came from real experiences or conversations members of the team had previously in their careers”
Obstacles like “Beam of Perception”, which consist of a balance beam that participants must cross with the words “angry” and “lazy” printed on each side gives people a chance to see stereotypes in the workplace. “If you’re too nonchalant about your job, you’re automatically seen as lazy,” LaFlore explained. “If you’re too passionate about your job, you might be seen as the angry black man or the angry black woman.”
Another obstacle, The Hollywood shuffle, “Tackles the weight black people feel when co-workers ask them about black culture” as reported by AdWeek. “It spoke to the idea that a lot of times, whether it’s a company party or something, people expect that the black guys are going to dance,” LaFore explained. “I don’t always know all the dance moves and all the trends that are happening just because I’m a minority in the office.”
“We are by no means perfect, but acknowledging the issue and talking about it is something we take really seriously,” Peterson said. “I think everyone needs to look at it and think about how we are going to change and act differently if we want this industry to evolve and be better.”
The “Black at Work” obstacle course will be in Havas Chicago until the end of February and will be open to anyone who will be open to anyone who will accept the challenge
Check out Photos of the Jobstacle Course below!