MediaCom’s Inclusion & Diversity Journey

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MediaCom’s Inclusion & Diversity Journey

In 2020, MediaCom UK CEO Kate Rowlinson made a public commitment to share our work in equity, inclusion and belonging with the wider industry. As an industry, we have been slow to make progress in this area, much to our detriment, and only by openly discussing our work with our peers do we accelerate this progress. Inclusion and Diversity is no longer a USP for businesses – holding our cards close to chest simply hinders us and our peers – and in this instance we should all share a common goal to be, and do, better.

In sharing our learnings with our clients and partners, we pledged to be open about what is working for us, but also where we have fallen down. We wanted to create an environment where we can share, but we can also listen to the work that our partners are doing. In our most recent event, we took another step towards achieving this and are now sharing the learnings further with you here.

On Tuesday 23rd February, we welcomed clients, partners and staff to our virtual event: MediaCom’s Inclusion and Diversity Journey. The purpose of this event was to equip people with practical tips to help implement tangible change in their businesses.

The session was hosted by Nancy Lengthorn (Managing Partner & UK Head of Inclusion & Belonging, WPP) who has been spearheading MediaCom’s I&D efforts since 2017. Whilst it was paramount for MediaCom to share their own work in this event, it was also important to us to welcome our peers to share too. We were lucky enough to be joined by the four inspiring speakers below.

Kate Rowlinson, CEO of MediaCom UK

“We can’t be silent in the face of microaggressions that occur in our business, they may be sad to face but I’m certain that uncovering these truths leads to meaningful change”

Kate began by sharing the work that we have been doing on our Microaggression and Allyship programme at MediaCom, and the effect that leaning into these conversations has had on our culture.

You may ask what a microaggression is: an indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group.

An example: “where are you from? No, where are you really from?”.

We have all heard these kinds of slights in the workplace. MediaCom have raised awareness through mandatory microaggression and allyship training*, working to ensure that these instances are not met by silence and that everyone at MediaCom feels like they belong.

Kate’s advice: Our Employee Resource Groups are the eyes and ears of our business, and the cultural insights they help to provide mean that we can address difficult issues. ERGs ensure that we are listening to our people and a version of such is beneficial to any business.

*Microaggression training led by I&D facilitator Bilal Harry Khan and Allyship training led by GroupM Uni

Lydia Amoah, Cross-Cultural & Diversity Consultant, Lydia Amoah Consultancy

“As long as your business wants productivity and profitability, we must learn to put words into action and make these changes for our people – it must come from the heart ”

Lydia presented 3 keys strategies that we should all address in order to create a more inclusive culture in our workplaces. Here are Lydia’s 3 C’s:

  • Culture – Don’t go it alone, listen to the lived experiences of the people who are in your business. By taking a look at the culture and environment in your organisation, you will avoid alienation of the people you are trying to reach.
  • Complaints – Don’t shy away from difficult conversions. These are what push progress forward and help achieve the culture you are striving for.
  • Colour – Be mindful. We should all be proud of our progress, but multi-ethnic employees should not be made examples of, or become ‘poster kids’.

Lydia’s advice: Listen to the lived experiences of your people, they should always remain central to your strategy. So often this gets lost and it will always be to your detriment.

Debbie Klein, Group Chief Marketing, Corporate Affairs & People Officer, Sky

“Targets are not universally accepted as the right thing to do, but they ensure we are putting a stake in the ground and are very publicly held to account”

We were delighted to be joined by Debbie Klein who spoke in detail about Sky’s data-driven approach to setting targets for race and gender. Targets are not quotas and they are certainly not tokenism, they are based on merit and removing barriers to promote equity. Sky’s target – 20% black and minority ethnic and 5% black representation by 2025 – is regionally weighted and differs based on teams and levels to ensure that Sky has a workforce that reflects the makeup of the UK. Debbie showcased a sophisticated approach to target setting and provided guidance on how to communicate these targets to make sure everyone in your organisation gets behind them.

Debbie’s advice: As a business we are used to being setting commercial targets and making sure that we reach them, and our race and gender targets should be no different. Let’s treat this like we do any other business area.

Avelon Thompson, Future Talent, Inclusion and Diversity Manager, MediaCom UK

“Our vision is to be the most diverse agency, and to do that we need to be bold in our strategy”

Finally, our very own Avelon Thompson gave an insight into the sponsorship programme in place at MediaCom and how sponsorship, rather than mentorship, is an action-orientated appraoch in giving opportunities to black and Asian employees talent across the company. The programme is designed to ensure that we retain the talent that we attract in our junior and mid–levels, providing equitable opportunities to enable them to progress through our business. Sponsorship differs from mentorship in that it places the onus on our senior sponsors and how they can use their power and influence to unlock opportunities for the sponsee. This may mean helping them grow their network or establishing them on a new project, but ensures those who sometimes experience additional bias and challenged in the workplace have the opportunity to thrive in the same way that so many others take for granted.

Avelon’s advice: Sponsorship allows you to focus on equity rather than equality, in order to achieve tangible, action focussed results for your people and your business.

If you would like to watch the event in full, please click here to access the video.

A huge thank you to our speakers and all who attended, we look forward to hosting more of these events in future.

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