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The Newsletter | Edition 055
Progress Report is dedicated to providing inspiration for action. In our Off-White Papers, we provide practical guidance on how to respond to our rapidly-changing world. This newsletter explores those topics in real-time, with information and action steps on how to make progress now.

But in this special newsletter series, The State Of, we dive a little deeper into the long-term work that comes after, in the places where we’re seeing new types of progress in action. From brand strategy to design, internet trends to sustainability, music to science, beauty to travel, and more.

Society—and the business community, specifically—has seemingly de-prioritized much needed action toward racial equity. Perhaps we lost the battle with empathy amnesia. Or simply reprioritized our emotional energies following The Year That Never Seems to End. Regardless of the reason, recommitment is the first step, and relinquishing our power is the second. During this year’s Advertising Week New York, BlackRock’s Jamal Smith and I will be digging deeper into each.

We’re living through extraordinarily confusing and complex times (...understatement of the millennia?). And much like past historic moments of upheaval, we owe it to future generations to stay committed to the uneasy work of positive change. It’s not a moral stance alone, it’s an unwavering economic imperative. And failure to act due to distraction would be disappointing at best, catastrophic at worst.

But you wouldn’t be reading this far if you didn’t already care. Let’s skip the lecture and jump to action: what can we do to tackle recommitment to The Work, and relinquishing our own power?



Take a page from smoking cessation, weight loss, or any other behavior change classic: the most effective first step is gentle, positive reminders. So do it. Write “I’m committed to equity in my workplace” on a post-it. Stick it to your computer.

But I’ll push you a bit further: each evening, crumble it up and throw it away. Tomorrow morning, rewrite it, and put it right back where it was. Make yourself work for it every day. You’re a lot more likely to take action when your post-it doesn’t become wallpaper—when your recommitment is fueled by everyday, self-initiated intention.


A common refrain in this conversation is, “well I don’t have power in my organization.”

I love you. But y’wrong. Recognizing your own power and autonomy is the first step in breaking unproductive behavior patterns in the workplace. Each of us has a voice, a mind, and a talent. We wouldn’t be in the room if it weren’t true. Embracing that power in micro ways may even reveal where you’ve been diminishing its effectiveness in your personal life. I think about a slant on the potentially apocryphal Eleanor Roosevelt quote: every moment is an opportunity to employ your full power, so let each one count.

Great! You know that progress isn’t convenient. Be it intangible comfort or tangible short-term monetary gain, it costs something. And the muscle memory of discomfort is short-lived. It needs to go beyond a feeling—business must follow through with action.

So here are three questions that can rev your organization’s idled engines:

Ask yourself: Where is polite silence thwarting your momentum?
Whether your day-to-day is focused on getting the work done or setting the vision for your entire company: let polite silence be enemy number one in your day. Where might small decisions stack up to big consequences? What stalled ideas should be revisited? Respectfully, directly, and frequently calling out considerations and concerns around how your team can be more inclusive and collaborative should be mandatory—so suggest one change this week.

Ask yourself: Where will you add one more accountability trigger?
Much of the stagnation isn’t any individuals’ fault, but the adequate systems of accountability that weren’t established. It’s all good—do it now.

As a quick google search will reveal, these can take on countless forms —like introducing diversity-based performance incentives for you and your leadership team, or systemizing collaboration standards that incentivize power-distributing behavior in day-to-day work. So pick one and incorporate it this week.

You’ll skip over the mulling / dwelling / swirling phase, and immediately spark urgency and action across your team.

Ask yourself: Where will you leapfrog—or redefine—your standards?
Some companies were flamed for seemingly hypocritical social media responses in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Others wrote huge checks that seemed to assuage guilt, rather than spur change. Now’s the time to make one big step forward. Perhaps it's re-upping last year’s monetary commitment. Or rewriting your company vision to center those in the margins. Whatever it is, make the adjustment this week.

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