In the pursuit of championing equitable opportunities for all Black marketing executives in the industry today—and enshrining that access for the many generations of leaders to come—a coalition of more than two dozen Black C-suite professionals has come together under one banner to offer their expertise to those in need.
Contrary to its name, the newly announced Black Executive CMO Alliance, more commonly referred to by its acronym BECA, isn’t just a club for chief marketing officers; its 26 founding members are an indispensable mix of presidents and VPs, CEOs and global heads, all of whom hail from a range of iconic consumer and business-to-business brands.
BECA was established by Jerri DeVard, an industry veteran who has held the role of chief marketer at companies including Citibank, ADT and Nokia over the years, after she noticed that quick conversations with her peers last year were often extending for an hour or more, with deep issues repeatedly coming up. “As I hung up the phone with the fourth or fifth person, I said, ‘There’s something going on here,’” she says.
Realizing a group at “the intersection of Black and C-suite and marketing” did not yet exist, DeVard set about gauging the interest of fellow Black executives and recruiting leaders who’d come to lay the framework of BECA, all based around four key pillars: “Share, learn, elevate, and pay it forward,” she says.
On sharing, DeVard says that the group’s members will be able to speak of collective experiences in a safe, closed-door environment that’ll enable all to benefit. On learning, BECA members can share in detail the struggles and triumphs that come with the job, and discuss the “common feelings” that come with being Black in the C-suite. The elevate pillar is focused on elevating the profession, providing role models and emphasizing the power of marketing roles. And the “pay it forward” aspect will materialize as coaching sessions and mentorships, allowing marketers to share personal insights on how to recover from inevitable stumbles.
“Anyone who says they haven’t made mistakes or hasn’t had any roadblocks isn’t telling you the truth,” DeVard says. “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.”