A few months back, I penned a piece about inclusion and the need for more manbassadors and work/life integration in agency land. The blog received a lot of feedback, largely positive, but also its fair share of negatives and challenges. The challenges revolved around my stated areas of focus, how genuine my commitment was and around what was actually being done, rather than talked about.
Both are fair challenges as the area of diversity and inclusion is hardly new and there has, in general, been much more talk than action. Talk is cheap and as members of the creative industry, we are well honed in the art of rhetoric. From my conversations, little of the talk is followed through to completion and then sustained over a concerted period. For this reason, I wanted to follow up my initial call to arms and share the specific actions that we have put in place within Havas Media Group since my original blog.
To jog your memory, my key commitments were around gender diversity , better support for women in the workplace & the LGBT community, improved work/life integration, better appreciation of working parents and a re-boot of talent hiring.
The first part of the journey started with myself and our very progressive Chief Talent Officer, Darren Minshall, hatching a framework. For us, diversity doesn’t sit in one demographic. It sits within all of them. The Havas approach to diversity is a fundamental pillar within our talent strategy to attract, retain and develop the best talent. Whilst we recognise the focus that quotas provide, we have chosen to first focus on education, access and opportunity.
Our belief is that before you can see shifts in quota, there needs to be an investment in each of the above. Over the first 4 months of the year, Darren and I met weekly with at least one advisor or organisation offering some form of diversity and inclusion advice. Like so many things at Havas, we see collaboration within our own business and with external partners as the fundamental mechanic to making this a movement with tangible action and not a series of broadcasts. We don’t have all the answers.
First off, I will admit that we haven’t made progress in all areas we set out to; we did however prioritise a number of areas to get moving fastest, where there have already been some visible signs of change. So, enough with the storytelling, what did we actually do to “live this story” I hear you ask ?
* Under our Havas Fusion banner, we have launched a female leaders coaching program. From July all of of our female staff will be able to get coaching on confidence and how to progress into leadership positions.
* To specifically address challenge of getting more women into leadership positions, we are working with Amanda Fone’s off-shoot consultancy called Back2Business to create a permanent placement later this year for a working mum from an agency background to re-enter the workplace with a dialled up support network and mentoring.
* We are blessed to have an active and vocal LGBT community within Havas Fusion, and instead of starting a new HR led initiative, we are providing amplification to an employee led LGBT event where Mike Oakes, the organiser of the Economist Pride & Prejudice conference, LGBT publisher Millivres and others will join us for a curated programme of inspirational sessions.
* To support working parents, we have also signed up to support the great NABs #workingparents initiative that Diane is running in this area.
* To reimagine how we create the foundations for more diverse, young talent away from the traditional graduate pools, we have a two pronged strategy:
1) We have signed up to be part of the IPA’s Creative Pioneers program to create new apprenticeship opportunities for young people in London. 5 years ago Havas Media launched one of the first in-house apprentice schemes but if I am honest it tailed off so today it makes more sense to re-focus by collaborating with the great work that Janet at the IPA is doing.
2) In a similar vein, in mid May we held an event in partnership withTechmix Career Camp (part of the Mayor’s Digital London program). This event was for under-privileged 16-25 year olds from diverse backgrounds to educate, inform and prepare them for getting in to media or advertising. It was an inspiring day and as a result, to put our money where our mouth is, we have offered 3 live vacancies across the Group to the best candidates.
* Lastly, we are at the very beginning of conversations with Kanya King, the founder of MOBO, to talk about how we can make ourselves more attractive to BAME talent. More on this in my next blog as it is early days. Interestingly, one of our agencies, Forward Media yesterday ran a live hackathon at #Media360 and it attracted an almost entirely BAME group. We need to do more to attract STEM graduates by highlighting how our industry is embracing data & tech.
Next up we focus on mental health and a sustainable long term approach to wellness.
We ran a wellness week last year but have since decided we need a more sustained long term effort. So the headline is that we are starting to just do stuff. Tangible stuff that will make a meaningful difference to the Havas culture. Are we doing enough? Will all of it work ? Of course not, but we are doing much more than we were a few months ago and more of our people are raising their hands to be involved. We will measure the impact through our existing employee engagement survey to understand how it improves engagement overall, not just short-term quota KPI’s. Given the compelling statistics I quoted last time, our belief is that a more diverse, inclusive and caring culture will help our business flourish and grow.
This is a journey that has already run for years and will no doubt extend for many years to come, but we can and must accelerate the pace of behavioural change. Our industry is transforming faster than ever before so more than ever, which requires us to re-imagine how we encourage more diverse and rewarding cultures that enable our talent to do the very best work of their careers.
Much like my initial piece, I wrote this blog for a reason; to put a focus on action. I know many others are on the same journey. My rally cry this time round is to ask others to actively and generously share what they are actually “doing” in this space so we can all learn and improve. From every event I attend, there is consensus we are not doing enough to change our industry in the diversity stakes. Just imagine how much faster we could change things if we all make this a collective mission, as Tom Knox is calling for in his IPA agenda.
To do that though, as I said at Media 360 yesterday we must all look beyond our own agencies or groups to how we change the industry and indeed the wider communities around us. This mission is more critical than any other we all sit on panels debating and it is the one where genuine collaboration must win over competition. We will all benefit from creating the necessary seismic shift in our industry but it needs our collective power to create this shared value. Stand up and be counted
Finally, I’m delighted to be speaking at the Hobbs Consultancy He AND She event in June talking more about why this needs us “all in” to make the necessary change. It is heartening to see more pieces focusing on the need for this to be a conversation that involves both women and men. Gender equality must be itself an inclusive pursuit that everyone can “lean in” to or else it is in danger or emulating the very institution it is trying to fight against – the boys club. Hope to see you there or on social media.
Please feel free to let me know what you think as always using the comments. This is not a broadcast but the continuation of a conversation and I really don’t mind if you disagree with my sentiments…
Published on Linkedin.