Activision CMO on Black Lives Matter: ‘There is no social justice without economic support’

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Daniel Cherry III, the chief marketing officer of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues. (Richard Bord/Getty Images for Cannes Lions)

The killing of George Floyd in the US has put the fight against racial injustice and the need for actionable diversity and inclusion measures at the forefront of discussions over the last few weeks.

Executives at some of the largest companies in the world have used their voices to urge firms to use the momentum to tackle systemic racism and create authentic diverse and inclusive spaces in the workplace.

According to the chief marketing officer of global gaming firm Activision Blizzard (ATVI) Esports, companies should also also be required to consider economic justice, when it comes tackling this topic.

“There’s no social justice in my opinion without economic support for those doing the work,” said Daniel Cherry III in an Adweek panel discussion of black business leaders.

“We all have various different industries, and I think there is an opportunity to create diversity and inclusion in those industries — and I've talked about economic justice as well. Because we're in corporate America, and that means dollars and cents,” he said.

In recent years, activists dealing with racism and racial inequality in the US have increasingly pointed to the wealth and economic inequalities faced by black Americans.

READ MORE: The Federal Reserve contributes to inequality

At the same time, leading voices in the Black Lives Matter movement have argued that an increase in the proportion of black people in leadership roles would help elevate others, and act as a catalyst for further progress.

“I believe that if we can get in those rooms, that is half the battle. The question is what do you do when you get there. And we can't take this for granted,” Cherry III said.

“Those dollars and cents can be directed toward certain places,” he noted.

“For those having the opportunity to be in the rooms we're currently in — and if we don't do our jobs getting more folks into those rooms, then we've failed.”

For Cherry, this process starts with being a “compassionate leader.” Noting that he has been the most vulnerable he has ever been in an organisation in recent days, he said that the protests in the US had helped him break down walls.

The Black Lives Matter movement has received unprecedented support from corporate giants in America, with companies such as Nike (NKE), Netflix (NFLX), Citigroup (C), and Apple (AAPL) expressing vocal support for the cause.

Analysts have suggested that such support for the protests signals the rise of “political corporate social responsibility.”

But others have argued that supportive messages are not enough — and that they must be matched by funding, resources, and concrete changes to corporate behaviour.

READ MORE: Few black families will benefit from the historic stock market rally

Cherry III said that Activision wanted to get more people of colour behind the production of the company’s games.

“We have Call of Duty. And let’s be honest: There’s a lot of toxicity and a bit of racism in that world.”

Call of Duty has now included a Black Lives Matter message on the game’s loading screen.

“Now, a lot of folks can turn the game off and not play, but guess what? They’re going to play Call of Duty. That’s the platform we have. They’re going to sit through that.”

“If we can do our own little steps in our own world, that is all the change we need,” he said.

“If we all take a few steps forward, we’re going to really progress this conversation.”