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A Message on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from CEO, Russ Klein

The AMA mission is to support meaningful careers and communities in marketing, which in turn spur economic growth and social progress that raise the standard of living for everyone. An explicit commitment to the values (and behaviors) in service of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is inherent and fundamental to the AMA mission.

The American Marketing Association (AMA) and our member communities have been shaken to the depth of our souls as we witnessed the killing of George Floyd (by the murderer and those who stood by and did nothing). It is not a time for passivity. Positive intentions, altruistic motives, and empathetic sentiments are not enough. As Martin Luther King Jr. so elegantly asserted, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

The AMA is confronting the insidious rot of racism in our society head on. We can do more, be better, and be held accountable for turning tomorrow’s hope into today’s action. We are committed to a growth mindset and accept there is no real way to fully experience the deep and burning pain of those who’ve suffered at the hands of racism.

George Floyd’s death will be a rebirth of accelerated advancement toward a newly created future, defined by the inherent values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, into which we can usher today’s marketers and tomorrow’s marketing hopefuls. We will continue to work closely with our AMA community leaders across industry, academia, and colleges and universities in that pursuit. No matter your race, gender, disabilities, the way you love and choose to be loved; if you believe in the super-powers of responsible marketing to contribute to a better, fairer, and just world, then the AMA community is for you.

Everyone in the marketing community deserves voice and influence with respect to this institution. Help us. Please know it is not only safe, but we welcome hearing how the AMA mission is of service to the needs of our constituents. We expect to hear the uncomfortable, but all of us have “had it” with the slow progress of racial equity and equality.

A change management expert once taught me that change ONLY occurs when there is committed leadership and universal dissatisfaction with the current state.  Effective communication and adoption of dissatisfaction often begin with dramatic declarations that we are universally fed up with the status quo. We will remain proactive leaders in the business community. 

It is what full-throated protests are all about. We are universally fed up with the lack of change. In fact, it is the collision of ideas that end up “in the streets” that has been behind every meaningful change in our history. The AMA chooses to be on the right side of historic and meaningful change.

The urgent and acute need to meet this moment of such hurtful racism and generational damage is our #1 priority. Black lives matter. The AMA is committed to transparent and measurable goals that engage the entire AMA staff and our communities; with clear accountability and responsibility for turning Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of the future into today’s imperative.

From my heart, Godspeed with healing and justice to the friends, families, and victims who have suffered. All of us at the American Marketing Association stand with you to make real change for DEI ideals.


Russ Klein || CEO

American Marketing Association