The Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit is quickly approaching on June 9-11. (Register here if you haven’t already!)
With diversity and inclusion front and center at day two of the Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit, License Global talks to Saphia Maxamed, founder, Black Lives Matter Licensing, about the importance of the movement and its extension into licensing.
License Global: For those who don’t already know, what is the Black Lives Matter licensing initiative and why is it important?
Black Lives Matter Licensing is a diversity and inclusion movement for the licensing Industry to move the global social and equality Black Lives Matter movement forward and implement
meaningful change collectively. We have a diverse executive committee of licensors and licensees who are currently building a credible diversity and inclusion strategy for the industry to implement and ensure a percentage of sales are collected and distributed to specific projects within Black communities.
Additionally, Black Lives Matter Licensing has officially partnered with the wider movement through blacklivesmatter.uk who are the non-political arm of the Black Lives Matter movement. Our mission is simple: we are set to educate and implement meaningful changes that need be licensing industry standard. We are moving the conversation forward positively and turning the movement into action. Our main focus is to support the Black community to become financially viable. We want to help to close the wealth gap, and for Black communities to be given an equal opportunity to compete in the marketplace. It is the right thing to do. The funds generated from the Black Lives Matter Licensing program will go towards supporting Black businesses, education projects, justice reform projects, healthcare and other related matters.
This is not just very important work, but it is historical work! The changes we are making now will become the change we should all want to see. It is important to understand that future generations will look back at what we did in the wake of Black Lives Matter movement and recognize it is us (this generation) that had to do the work to dismantle these systematic injustices.
How does the Black Lives Matter Licensing initiative fit in to the movement’s broader goals?
The Black Lives Matter initiative is the pillar of everything that we do. We are putting structures in place that will be inclusive in every level and provide Black communities with new chances they have not had before. This is about equal rights, and the licensing industry has an opportunity to be part of the journey. We want to see Black owned businesses grow, and new companies joining and becoming key players in the industry. In addition, what’s also important is to see more companies recruit their talents from Black Lives Matter Licensing partners, providing new opportunities to the younger generation.
Through a licensing program we will be able to plough investment back into real causes. All funds raised will be invested back into the Black community to make a real change in people’s lives.
For a movement like Black Lives Matter, do collaborative co-brands fit into your overall licensing plan, or do you find more value in standalone merchandise with only Black Lives Matter branding? If you’re open to collaborative co-brands, what does the movement such as yours look for in potential partners?
Absolutely, all options are on the table – it is the only way for us as an industry to move forward.
Standalone branding is key; however, the co-branding can only strengthen our message. Having said that, co-branding needs to make sense and needs to be authentic; we cannot logo slap our way out of this work. Making one-time donations on the one collab for a PR stunt is simply not going to work. We are keen to work with brands with specific focus on attracting Black consumers and brands that have deep ties with Black culture.
Why do you feel an event like B&LIS supports the overall goals of your licensing program? What made you decide to participate in B&LIS in the way that you are?
B&LIS gives us a platform to amplify our message. This is much needed support for our licensing program.
We were honored to be invited to have this very important conversation with Stuart Lawrence and Product of Change movement founder, Helena Mansell-Stopher. This is significant step towards the change for the industry. If anything, the pandemic has left us with the legacy of change. The two topics of making this change fits in perfectly with this panel.
Multiple licensing executives from companies like ViacomCBS, Fashion U.K. and more have joined the BLM licensing initiative. Why is it important for licensing executives to get involved with movements like this?
For the movement to succeed we need to have the support of industry leaders. These executives have the backing of their corporations behind them to represent the industry and help shape the direction of the BLM core initiatives of inclusiveness and implementing change. Now is the time for the industry to follow suit and join the movement. We have more individuals who have recently joined the committee and we will be announcing them soon.
Why should companies get involved in social justice initiatives from both a business and social standpoint? How does diversity and inclusion help the licensing business as a whole?
Wow, what a question. It is an important one! If any companies are still asking themselves why they should get involved in social justice from both business and social standpoint, then they have already been left behind. It is imperative for any business to integrate. The change has already happened. Post pandemic consumer behaviors have changed. They demand equality, social justice, humanity and environment-friendly ethos. Consumers are checking this before spending their money. The word “diversity” has a new meaning now. It has purpose companies can no longer rely on box ticking or mission statement. They need a real impactful D&I strategy and follow up actions. Failing to do so will result in a real impact on their bottom line.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our audience regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and/or its licensing initiative?
I hope we left food for thoughts to the audience. Please follow our movement and if you have a brand, product or you are a retailer please speak to us and see how we can partner with you. The committee would love to discuss opportunities available.
We will be updating the industry with our progress on our website and licensing press. Here is our website is https://www.blacklivesmatterlicensing.com/.
To check out the diversity and inclusion panel Maxamed is participating in on behalf of Black Lives Matter Licensing, see day two of the Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit agenda here, and don’t forget, you can still register for the event here.