The murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020 sparked global protests and nationwide conversations about systemic racism. Since then, diversity & inclusion efforts have been prioritized at many companies across a variety of different sectors. We recently sat down with Fahad Khawaja, Founder of Hue —a platform aimed at amplifying voices of color in the marketing industry, to discuss what this moment means for people of color, and how Hue is aiming to change the marketing industry for the better.
Fahad Khawaja is an award-winning brand builder, change agent, and global citizen with more than 15 years of experience building modern, connected, and purpose-driven brands. His latest endeavor, Hue, is a social impact platform advocating change by amplifying voices of color in marketing, increasing visibility, and paving a path toward equity & prosperity. With a focus on building diverse teams to deliver business transformation and growth, Fahad has led some of the world’s top brands within both startups and large corporations, including Neutrogena, Aveeno, Listerine, Johnson’s, American Express, Geico, and Human Performance Institute, among others.
What is Hue and how did it start?
Hue is a platform and community advocating change. It was built to amplify the voices of people of color working in marketing to increase our visibility and to pave a path for us all to rise.
Why does Hue exist, and why is it needed now more than ever before?
The steps we take today will create the change we need for tomorrow. Hue exists to help build equity & prosperity for us all. For years, employers have reported their struggles to find leaders of color. We’re here. We’re experts in our craft. And we’re ready—but we don’t always have access to the legacy decision-makers or their networks. When they do recruit us, we’re often left to fend for ourselves, without a path to development or growth. The result: we continue to be systemically held back from accessing opportunity and achieving our goals. It’s time to change that.
How can marketers use Hue themselves?
Marketers can think of Hue as your external ERG (Employee Resource Group) and extension of your own network. If you're a marketer of color who wants to increase your access to opportunity, you can sign up for free and get access to a growing community of Black, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and multi-racial-identifying leaders in marketing. If you're a marketer who just wants to help others get more access to opportunity—regardless of whether you're White, Black, or otherwise—you can sign up to be a supporter. Being a supporter can include mentoring/coaching, connecting to hiring managers, or just expanding your network, with no minimum time commitment required. It's meant to be simple, just as any 1:1 introduction should be.
How can brands use Hue?
Brands can show their transparency and commitment to talent of color. It could be a custom partnership we map out together with sponsorships or online events, or it could be something turnkey like an evergreen employer branded page on our platform, for instance. It could also be something as simple as job postings on our members job board. Simplicity & transparency are built into our core values. It's who we are and how we want to work with each other.
What would Hue have done for you as a young professional had you had it when you were entering the industry?
Honestly, it would have been a game changer. Throughout my career, I've rarely seen anyone who shares the types of experiences I've had in the business, as a person of color, an immigrant, and beyond. This is even more pronounced at senior leadership levels.
What do the next 6-12 months look like for Hue as you guys scale? What's the dream? What's the big picture?
Two words come to mind: Health. Wealth. The dream is to help grow health & wealth among communities of color, which ultimately benefits everyone. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats. In the next few months, we want more companies and brands in the boat with us!
As you know, Knotch is a platform for content marketers—what value does diversity offer content marketers?
Diversity is an entry point. It's about representation, which is critical to creating content that resonates today and tomorrow. Our world is intersectional, and our content must be too. Recognize that our leaders and teams need to reflect, advocate, and design for the populations we serve. It's the only way we'll sustainably solve problems and live into our purpose.
How important are diverse/inclusive brand stories and marketing campaigns? Why are they important?
We've all heard it before—we need to see ourselves reflected in the stories that are shared. Break down myths and misunderstandings. Rise up to realities and rally behind each other. Brands have the power and responsibility to tell stories that ring true and drive tangible positive impact.
What is the future of content marketing and marketing more broadly? How does diversity play into that?
The future is here. As brands and leaders, we have a unique opportunity to use our platforms as megaphones to make noise toward the most meaningful of outcomes: progress and social change. Technology and tools will make it even easier for marginalized voices to be heard and carry the weight they deserve. The more our voices are heard, the more clearly we will be seen. The more we're seen, the better we'll be understood and will understand one another. It's up to us to make this happen.