On the weekend of November 11th, the 17th Annual ADCOLOR Awards took place in Los Angeles, California. The yearly award ceremony honors individuals and companies that go above and beyond to make a difference in the creative and tech industries.
This year’s ceremony honored countless changemakers, dedicating their careers to creating more inclusive and safe spaces. In recognition of her commitment to accelerating acceptance for the LGBTQ community, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis was honored with an Advocate Award.
The award was presented to Ellis by 2017 ADCOLOR Advocate Award recipient, actor and activist Wilson Cruz.
“Over the last nine years, Sarah Kate has turned GLAAD into a global powerhouse of advocacy and action. Under her leadership, the GLAAD Media Institute is working with brands, corporations and content creators around the world to accelerate acceptance. This was a particularly impactful year for Sarah Kate as she met privately with the Pope to discuss LGBTQ issues, and was named to the Time 100 List,” Cruz said about Ellis.
After accepting the honor from Cruz, Ellis thanked ADCOLOR Founder and GLAAD Board Member Tiffany R. Warren and began by saying “It has been a devastating year for the LGBTQ community. Over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures, hundreds of acts of violence. Next year is on track to be even worse…not just for queer people, but for all marginalized communities.”
She concluded by stating, “We must continue to increase visibility for our community. Our research shows that less than 30% of Americans know someone who is trans. More Americans report having seen a ghost than a trans person. So that other 70% is learning about our community through the media. And right now, extremist politicians and unchecked social media voices are filling the gap with hate. To stop these heinous attacks, we need to fill the gap with education and affirmation. Let’s all get loud, and stay proud.”
Additional Advocate Award recipients at this year’s ADCOLOR awards included Raquel Willis: Award-winning author, activist, and media strategist and Shawn Finnie, an entertainment executive who most recently served as the Executive Vice President, Member Relations and Awards to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Amongst several others, additional award winners included Alexzi Girma: leader of the #BlackTikTok creator community program at TikTok, Jerri DeVard: Founder of the Black Executive CMO Alliance, Lynn Branigan: President & CEO of She Runs It, Cheryl Guerin: EVP, Global Brand Strategy & Innovation, Mastercard, and Tariq Hassan: Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer, McDonald’s USA.
Hassan, Willis, and Guerin joined Ellis for a panel discussion titled “When They Go Low, We Get Loud: ADCOLOR Honorees Doubling Down on LGBTQ Inclusion.” Moderated by Ellis, the honorees had an in depth discussion about the growth opportunity and cultural impact of LGBTQ-inclusive products, advertising, and consumer engagement during a critical time for community support.
“Our identities matter. Our experiences matter. These workplaces have to be connected to what’s happening in the news, what’s happening globally, and have to recommit to what they say their values are. If your values are equity and inclusion, you can’t just leave that mission statement aside. Be about that action and return to that mission,” Willis stated during the discussion.
“Being your true self is priceless. IT’s reflective of the company – we have to be true to ourselves. We went on with our Pride activities. We’ve been rolling out true name to over 30 markets around the world. When you show your values, those who share the values come along with you. There’s always going to be some negativity but the positive has consistently drowned out the negative,” said Mastercard’s Guerin.
McDonald’s Hassan followed this up by sharing, “If you follow with your values and your culture then you inherently have a strategy set up. You have to talk to your community – for us that was our internal community and our EBN – but also if you look at challenges. If you don’t have values and strategy in space it’s hard to respond to one moment. When you serve America – everyone is welcome – that has to be the posture. We did face a moment of threat – it wasn’t a question of backing down. Brand safety second and that influencer’s safety first.”
To close, Ellis stated that “We have to be invested in building the world that we all deserve.”
For a full list of ADCOLOR Award recipients, see here: adcolor.org/awards.