Stephanie Small promoted to give Black Taxi full-time focus

What started as an internal DEI initiative has been restructured as its own division, offering consulting and advertising services to clients.

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Taxi has promoted Stephanie Small to lead Black Taxi – the agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiative – as it takes on a new form as a division within the agency offering services to clients.

Small established Black Taxi within the agency last year, developing and running the program on top of her existing duties as creative operations manager. But beginning this fall, she will be dedicated full-time to its work as director of Black Taxi/Transformation.

“If we want to create meaningful change, this cannot be a part-time project,” Emma Toth, president of Taxi, said in a staff email announcing the new role. “The vision that Steph has for Black Taxi requires full-time commitment.”

On top of Small’s new full-time director role, Black Taxi has also been restructured from an internal DEI initiative to a full division within the agency that will also be providing services to clients.

In addition to Small (pictured, left)stephsmall, Black Taxi currently has four full-time staff, along with two staff from elsewhere in the agency that are tapped to provide mentorship to interns as needed. That team will now also be providing consulting services for clients that want to improve their own diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, as well as advertising services geared towards the needs of small and medium sized Black-owned businesses.

While the advertising services will potentially make the expertise of an agency like Taxi available to businesses that might not have previously been able to access it, Black Taxi’s consulting work aims to drive long-term change by doing the necessary internal work it has already done within its own agency.

“It was less about what was demanded and more about what’s needed,” Small says, echoing what she frequently says is the ultimate goal of her work: increasing diversity not just within Taxi, but across the industry. “If our clients are going to market to BIPOC folx, why are there not any in the room? Black Taxi aims to give voice and platforms to those voices while improving our client’s environments.”

While the consulting services are available to existing Taxi clients, Small also says she “isn’t going to turn away” anyone looking to improve diversity in their workplaces, and is open to finding different ways to work together.

On the internal front, the hallmark of Black Taxi’s work has been its internship program, which is currently in the midst of its second cohort. Taxi has brought on 10 interns from over 250 applications, three of whom have since been hired into permanent positions within either Taxi or WPP. The interns were also able to receive what Small describes as a livable wage, a rarity in internships that is often a hurdle to talent participating, and which Small counts as the biggest accomplishment of Black Taxi so far.

In addition to her work with Black Taxi, Small will also be part of VMLY&R’s Transformation Initiative, a network-wide project to implement efforts that combat systemic racism across both client-facing and internal areas of the business. Small describes the ultimate vision of Transformation as being the same as Black Taxi, and will be bringing learnings from the Canadian market and her team’s methods to the global network.