It's not hyperbole to say the world has changed in the year since Thai Randolph joined the inaugural edition of The List, the industry advocacy group Ad Age formed in partnership with Facebook. (The world has changed two or three times in the couple of weeks since we recorded this interview, to be honest.) Randolph, executive vice president and general manager of Kevin Hart's Laugh Out Loud network, first came to Ad Age's attention when we named her to our 40 Under 40 list in September 2018.
Randolph, who had given birth to her son the previous year, took a leadership role in The List when the group of 31 marketing, advertising and media executives selected equitable parental leave as its core mission in April 2019. Highlights from The List's past year include appearances at Cannes, Advertising Week New York, Sundance and Davos to spread the message of the importance of parental leave for both mothers and fathers, not just for employees but for the businesses themselves.
The group's signature work culminated in the launch of the "Ask About It" campaign, offering workers and supervisors tools to have frank discussions about corporate policies and whether they addressed employees' needs adequately, in February to coincide with the anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The selection of The List's "10 Companies That Get Family Leave Right" followed in April.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and upended both our personal and business lives, Ad Age Studio 30 Editor John Dioso decided to check in with Randolph to see how she was dealing with running a Hollywood entertainment company remotely, parenting her son—and launching Sugaberry, the new lifestyle brand "by, about and for mothers of color" with her partner, Tika Sumpter, the actress-producer who stars in the ABC series "Mixed-ish."
Around the same time, the 2020 edition of The List had launched with a core mission of addressing unconscious bias in the industry. But the pandemic and the resulting challenges—including the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests that arose in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery—widened the scope of The List 2020 to examine how the industry will reset following these enormous societal changes and how it can create a better future, while retaining a heavy focus on unconscious bias. Given that Randolph runs two brands whose core content, including the podcast "The Suga," highlights many of the same issues, we can think of no better way or better person to pass the baton from the class of 2019 to the class of 2020.