Speaking up: Black women in Adland - Where are the leaders? It’s time to pull up a damn seat!

11 Jan, 2024

Behold the birth of Join Our Table: a collective of 8 powerhouse black women championing change. Don’t see that every day – and that’s the point, says Elizabeth Anyaegbuna, Co-Founder of Join Our Table and CEO of 16x9media.

When I touched down at the glitzy Cannes Lions festival last summer, I faced an all-too-familiar sight: 200+ industry leaders gracing the stage - yet barely a handful of faces like mine. Where were the Black British women? 

Cue that weary feeling - we were in the room, just not visible; often working tirelessly behind the scenes. It's not that there isn’t a recognition and desire for change but the shoots are barely visible on the ground. 

But fuelled by a cocktail (or two) at the Tik Tok party (ahem), a lightbulb moment sparked between myself and other senior Black women present. A meeting of minds. Enough talk; time for action. And to use what we had to drive change. 

Behold the birth of Join Our Table: a collective of 8 powerhouse Black women championing change. Don’t see that every day – and that’s the point. 

Our motto? Sisters, take a seat at our table...

Driving change on our own terms   

We're taking the steering wheel - no more waiting for the performative invite here and there. Through unity and action, we'll shift the dial on the stark lack of Black British female talent leading the industry. 

Rather than one-off initiatives, we believe unified, ongoing effort is key to improving Black British female representation at all levels. 

The eye-opening stats speak for themselves: 30% of Black advertising talent consider leaving due to feeling sidelined (McKinsey, 2022). 

JOT (what? we love our acronyms too!)  flips the script, looking to spotlight, offer mentoring, events, training and support on our own terms as we address the alarming talent drain. 

The outpour of love since our October launch proves this community-led approach strikes a chord.

We see you; we hear you  

Since launch in October, we've already put over 100 standout Black women on the JOT List radar. Consider it a go-to black British female talent bible - no more ‘I couldn’t find anyone’ excuses. 

Our vibrant 'We See You' Outdoor campaign also got Adland talking with support from ace influencers like Author & Journalist Candice Brathwaite, Presenter Zeze Millz, BBC Radio 1Xtra DJ Ace and artist Terri Walker.

But this drive reaches beyond the moral imperative - diverse leadership is good business! Yet Black women founders still languish at 0.02% in the UK (Extend Ventures, 2020). Need we say more?

Pull up a seat, or better yet - grab the mic! 

We’re seeking authentic inclusion by driving up equity to readdress the imbalance using our collective voice. We're now working with key industry players to shift Black women from the fringes and into every room year-round. 

Our goal? For brands to ensure Black women have a lasting seat at every table - not just visible during Black History Month, but centred year-round. Because true inclusion means empowering Black women as judges, panellists; thought leaders and decision makers shaping culture.

Come 2024, leading forums should be scouting homegrown UK talent - not just parachuting a couple of us in to tick boxes. Slight exaggeration…the parachute. Not the tick box. 

We want a seat because we’ve earned it. And we'll leverage our growing prestige for good, equipping more Black British women leaders with the spotlight and support to shine bright.  

This ride is only just kicking off - fancy joining us? Pull up a seat. All sisters and champions are welcome!

Join us on this journey at @joinourtable1 (IG) joinourtable.co.uk. The conversation has only just begun!

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