Engage Responsibly’s Anita McGorty Discusses Online Hate and How Education Empowers Consumers and SMBs to Be Part of the Solution | Knowledge Partners | All MKC Content | ANA

Engage Responsibly’s Anita McGorty Discusses Online Hate and How Education Empowers Consumers and SMBs to Be Part of the Solution


Fifty-two percent of Americans have experienced online hate, according to the Anti-Defamation League. And violence attributed to hate speech has increased worldwide. Expressions of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and other forms of targeted harassment against vulnerable groups and individuals can make the connectedness of social media become toxic.

Anita McGorty, Executive Vice President of Engage Responsibly, talks about how this education initiative, championed by the ANA, provides resources for businesses and consumers so that anyone can be part of the solution to create a safer and more inclusive digital environment.

While many have heard about the mental health effects of those experiencing online hate, fewer people may be familiar with its economic impact. Small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) represent the largest segment of business users on social media, so their revenues can suffer, for example, when they withdraw from online activity due to a malevolent experience.

To learn more from Anita McGorty about how you or your brand can combat online hate, watch the video interview on Internationalist Marketing TV (IMTV) on YouTube by CLICKING HERE.

Interestingly, Engage Responsibly began as an initiative founded in 2020 by Pernod Ricard and its charismatic former North American Chairman, Ann Mukherjee. One year later, she donated the project to the ANA so that it could expand by harnessing the scale and marketing power of the industry — from brands, platforms, and agencies to consumers and SMBs.

Ms. Mukherjee has stepped down from Pernod Ricard, but her initial sentiment remains strong:

"The fight against online hate is not just about technology; it's about preserving our essential human connection. In a digital world that can sometimes feel disconnected, we believe it's vital to remember that every online interaction represents a real person on the other side of the screen.... and how vital it is that all of us work to keep these ecosystems safe."

Current Initiatives

Today, Engage Responsibly is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) operating foundation owned and led by the ANA. Anita McGorty outlines a multi-pronged approach to meet the needs of both small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) and consumers:

  • A partnership with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and its network of over six million SMBs, of which over 400,000 are accredited businesses meeting BBB customer standards.
  • A new pro-bono ad campaign was created by Ogilvy that follows the story of a young LGBTQ+ man impacted by online hate. Media is being handled pro-bono by Publicis Collective to drive visitors to the engageresponsibly.org website for additional information.
  • Brand Resources — The site hosts a resource library for educational and support materials for confronting online hate through video modules with English and Spanish-language options and closed-caption capability for accessibility. Topics include actions that can be taken, reporting online hate speech to each central platform, and protecting one's online presence with technology.
  • Engage Responsibly Activation Kits — either for Brands or Businesses — also provide turnkey ways to activate Engage Responsibly assets — from ad campaigns to educational programs. Click here to access.

Listen to Anita McGorty discuss how marketers can use the scale and impact of their brands to combat online hate and to The Internationalist's entire Trendsetters podcast series here on iHeartRadio's Spreaker or wherever you download your podcasts.

In our conversation, we discuss the following:

  • The statistics regarding online hate are staggering. Would you share some details and tell us if you believe the situation is at a turning point or perhaps worsening?
  • Tell us about the origins of Engage Responsibly; it's a fascinating and generous story...
  • I recall that Ann Mukherjee, former Chairwoman of Pernod Ricard North America, said, "The fight against online hate is not just about technology; it's about preserving our essential human connection." How do you keep that spirit alive?
  • Talk briefly about why you focus on consumers and small businesses... they're often considered two separate groups...
  • You also have some important news: Engage Responsibly has now been granted non-profit status as a 501(c)(3) organization. What does that mean for your efforts in the future?
  • This November, Engage Responsibly began a campaign to combat online hate with advertising called "Theo's Story," created by Ogilvy. I believe it includes three online videos and one print execution. Tell us about it, along with the brand activation kit.
  • This began a mass awareness initiative to drive people to engageresponsibly.org. Am I correct that you aim to encourage 1 million people to visit the website by the end of 2024? How are you doing that?
  • Tell us about some of the brands involved with Engage Responsibly...
  • You also have several other initiatives planned for 2024 — especially with college campuses. Would you talk about this program?

Engage Responsibly is part of the ANA Growth Agenda's Society and Sustainability priorities, which include brand safety and are guided by the principle that brands should be a force for good and a force for growth.

Anita McGorty has spent a long career in corporate communications working for various agencies including MediaVest, Starcom, and most recently Publicis. She took on the role at Engage Responsibly in 2021 when the ANA took on the initiative from Pernod Ricard to scale its importance to the advertising, marketing, and media communities.


"Engage Responsibly's Anita McGorty Discusses Online Hate and How Education Empowers Consumers and SMBs to Be Part of the Solution." Deborah Malone, founder of The Internationalist, 2/28/24.

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