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In addition, it revealed it will be engaging a DEI specialist consultancy and giving it full access to its processes and practices, in a tender process it expects to complete within 30 days. The consultancy will conduct an independent reports and then work alongside the Lions leadership team and existing DEI Change Committee to embed its recommendations. “We hope and believe that with the help of clear, expert outside eyes we will make the step-change that is clearly necessary,” it stated.

The organization once again apologized to Asefaw, saying: “Cannes Lions takes its responsibility as a leader of the industry very seriously. We know we have a unique platform to drive positive change. We feel fortunate to have worked with many in the industry on initiatives that are contributing to this change. But the events of this week showed us that we are only as strong as our weakest link. If our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion doesn’t extend to every part of what we do, then it doesn’t extend to any part of what we do.”

Asefaw told Ad Age: “‘I am really pleased with Cannes Lions committing to an independent investigation and actions based on its findings. That HAS to create some change. However, you can’t help but sit with this feeling of why it had to come to this point in the first place. Going public like this is actually quite out of character for me, but I guess everyone can be pushed.”

“I really truly hope that other organizations who know they must improve in this space, will take notes from this, and similar situations, and improve,” he says, “before other POC feel that their only way forward is public display of their experiences.”

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