BECA | The Black Executive CMO Alliance

Shift from Rhetoric to Reality: A Clarion Call on Diversity in Marketing  

The CMO Club caught up with Julie Spencer Washington, CMO & CXO of Trinity Health and a member of the Black Executive CMO Alliance (BECA). BECA is an alliance of Black marketing executives that have come together to change and improve representation in the C-suite. Julie shares how the movement is disrupting business as usual to address the profound inequity in representation of Black professionals in marketing, a gap most acutely evident at the executive leadership level. To affect change, a who’s who of top Black marketing leaders have locked arms to form BECA and drive forward against an urgent mandate for change. Julie discusses the work that BECA is leading and how the organization is going about changing the status quo.

The Problem Statement 

According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) report “A Diversity Report for the Advertising/Marketing Industry” (November 2021), progress is being realized in increasing ethnic diversity in the advertising/marketing industry. Black/African Americans in 2021 comprise 4.6% of ANA member company CMOs as compared to 3% in 2020, but it’s not enough.

BECA’s members are intent on changing the storyline for the next generation of Black marketing leaders.  

The Members and the Mission

BECA’s mission is to provide an intimate, trusted space for Black marketing C-suite leaders to share, learn, elevate, and pay it forward in order to create opportunity, access, and equality for tomorrow’s Black marketing leaders. 

The luminary executives driving this mission include distinguished leaders in marketing at some of the world’s most iconic companies. BECA was created by Jerri DeVard together with members that include: 

Photo by: @eleewhitephotography


BECA is a trusted, safe space where these Black leaders come together to share experiences, strategies, challenges, insights, failures, and triumphs. By building and reinforcing the connective tissue of this community, BECA aims to reduce the “lonely only” isolation that many Black executives experience once they’ve achieved the highest levels of leadership. 

Every leader needs a safe place for peer-level support and counsel in good times, and in challenging ones. In those moments where we are tested, BECA gives Black executives a trusted peer network that lends perspective, insights, and support.

– Julie Spencer Washington

BECA’s vibrant forum for collaboration and networking also opens the door to new opportunities and access for Black marketing executives, as well as for the next generation of rising talent. As BECA creates connections, opportunities are able to flow through the pathways and reach Black marketing leaders to put them in the running for opportunities that were previously closed off. 

No matter how bright your talent is, you’ll never have the name recognition of a star if you don’t get the opportunity to take the big stage.

– Julie Spencer Washington

BECA is building partnerships, creating allies, driving action for Black talent to flourish and meaningful corporate diversity to be achieved.  


Every successful business leader has had mentors who were instrumental to helping them learn the playbook for career success. “For me, those people happened to be two Black men: Randy Partee, who became the first African American vice president at Ralston Purina, and James White, who became the CEO of Jamba Juice. It was their guidance that made the difference for me to be able to be sitting where I am today. ” 

When you’re the first in your family to go to college and make a career in the business world, you come in green. Corporate politics were not part of my upbringing. My mentors taught me the rules of the corporate world as they challenged me to stretch and ensured I was always delivering excellence.

– Julie Spencer Washington

By building mentorship programs and fostering relationships between top Black executives and the next generation of talent, BECA aims to equip rising Black professionals with insights on navigating landmines that derail success. It’s more than just helping the rising stars learn the ropes and wiring them into a distributed professional network invested in their success. It’s about defining new core organizational strengths in the companies where BECA members invest their talents to put systems in place to improve retention and success rates among Black marketing employees. 

On an individual level, BECA members serve as mentors and champions for rising Black talent. On an organizational level, BECA members act as beacons to help illuminate the path forward in their companies. They’re working to transcend the historic inequities and access to opportunities that exist for Black professionals in marketing. They’re working to create the embedded support network for a generation of Black talent that wasn’t born into one. The end game is a world where marketing organizations are an authentic reflection of the customers and communities that their businesses serve. And that is ultimately great for business.

Photo by: @eleewhitephotography


The members of BECA are reaching back and bringing others forward. “Not only is this about building the pipeline on Black marketing talent, it’s about creating opportunities in access to create greater visibility and exposure. We’re committing to bringing others with us on our journey and offering the help, insight and support to the next generation of leaders.” 

You have to know an opportunity is available in order to go for it. It takes partners to create the space for you to make contributions, showcase your talents, and have an impact.

– Julie Spencer Washington

BECA’s members are responsible for growing the top and bottom lines at some of the world’s most admired companies. By lifting up excellence and amplifying the opportunities that Black rising stars in marketing have access to, BECA members serve the interests of business growth while driving the mandate of corporate diversity. 

In order for a person to achieve their potential someone else has to be able to see it, and create the space for that potential to be realized. I am a seed planter. I want to help the next generation of Black leaders grow and thrive.

– Julie Spencer Washington

BECA is also elevating the profile of today’s top Black executive leaders to help infuse these diverse perspectives into our industry and community conversation. At the heart of BECA’s mission is elevating the voices of people who historically were not called upon. The relatively low share-of-voice these leaders have in our industry conversations is not commensurate with the caliber of credentials and quality of contributions they’ve made to marketing and business. By naming that problem, BECA is holding up a mirror to the C-suite demanding accountability for which voices are elevated and which are effectively sidelined. 

We have earned a seat at the leadership table and we have a compelling perspective to share. Our voices are unique and we have the courage to share them. We want to be brought into the conversation.

– Julie Spencer Washington

Pay it Forward 

“I’m a great example of what mentorship can do for someone and why it’s important. Randy and James saw my talent and potential early in my career. They knew what I was capable of even when I didn’t know. It was through them that I came to understand the importance of support, mentoring and paying it forward – by leaning in to help those who are walking the path behind me.“

BECA is working to leverage the success of their members to bring more Black marketing professionals into the fold through mentorship, internship, sponsorship, and scholarship. It’s all about strengthening the pipeline of current and future Black talent.

We want to make sure this pipeline of Black marketing talent is bigger and stronger. Ultimately we want to impact the number of Black C-suite executives, specifically in the marketing domain.

– Julie Spencer Washington

Pushing the Movement Forward – The BECA Playbook

BECA recently launched their new program, The BECA Playbook, that seeks to challenge the corporate diversity gap and transform the future of business by building the next generation of C-suite marketing executives in a two-year mentorship program.

Twenty-five high-potential mid-career Black marketing professionals have been selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of this innovative mentorship journey designed to propel their careers and prepare them for leadership positions with top organizations. This initiative represents a tangible commitment in time and financial resources from some of America’s best-known brands to address the barriers to success that rising Black executives face in their journey through corporate ranks.

Delivering on its mission to provide an intimate, trusted, and safe place for Black marketing C-suite executives to share, learn, elevate and pay it forward to create opportunity, access and equality for the current and next generation of Black marketing leaders – The BECA Playbook is the first-of-its-kind two-year mentorship journey to propel the careers of selected Black ‘Future Leaders’ on the marketing path to the C-suite by offering:

  • One-on-one CxO mentorship and coaching
  • Rare, unmatched exposure to a network of the world’s top Black executives whose career paths have been driven by marketing
  • A safe space and network of peers to share authentically and learn from others’ experiences, including participation in expert-led sessions
  • A curated learning and development experience to fill marketing skill gaps and apply in real-world simulations
  • Branded credentials for certifications that matter to marketing leaders

Essential to giving life to The BECA Playbook are the organizations deeply committed to making this journey possible by sponsoring the experiences of Future Leaders, including Deloitte, General Motors, Harman International, Kohl’s, Mars Wrigley, Procter & Gamble, PayPal, Peloton, SC Johnson, Starbucks, UPS, ViacomCBS (BET and CBS) and WPP-GroupM.

Through participation in The BECA Playbook, members and sponsoring organizations are demonstrating their support of BECA’s commitment to paying it forward, which is one of our key pillars. These are the actions that drive needed change in our industry.

– Julie Spencer Washington

BECA is a catalyst for change and is actively exploring partnerships and opportunities for collaboration with like-minded companies and organizations. Learn more about BECA and join the community on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.