In the immediate aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, we held listening groups with our people of colour, which was an opportunity to both understand the pain being felt, but also to surface individual experiences of racism within our industry. They were raw and emotional discussions and also incredibly enlightening in terms of some of the ideas suggested for how we tackle systemic racism.
Since then, we have launched our five-point plan to create a more equal and equitable environment in Mediabrands. This will include a survey of all staff (August) to identify the specific problems we need to address, further listening groups to "deep dive" the survey findings, with a commitment to take the required action from September and hold ourselves accountable on an ongoing basis.
We are also setting up a Mediabrands Heritage Network, which will seek to inspire, educate and celebrate talent in our business from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and support a progressive company culture through events, thought leadership and internal activations. The network will serve as a mechanism for employee voice, provide a sense of belonging and community, and an opportunity to work with the leadership team to bring about change. This heritage network is something that was being planned last year, to sit alongside the women’s network and Pride network that we already have in place at Mediabrands – recent events have just served to highlight its importance even more.
Spurred on by our BAME talents' suggestion that we do so (during one of our listening groups), we held our The Time is Now event in July, to serve as a platform for discussion on how we channel the current energy for change in order to become a more equal society. Hundreds of clients, colleagues and partners from across EMEA tuned into the session, which featured a panel with UK chief strategy officer Enyi Nwosu and friends from Campaign, Just Eat, LinkedIn and Spotify.
Our talent acquisition team has taken part in the Creative Equals diverse recruitment training.
We have sent our talents to the Creative Equals Accelerate BAME talent incubator for mid-seniority talent and have already seen great results. The industry often "outsources its conscience" to Creative Equals, which makes theirs a difficult job, and we help them however we can.
UM has created an All About U cultural concept to badge its D&I, cultural and wellbeing initiatives. This is given prominence in key agency meetings and comms.
Tone at the top: the message is frequently relayed by leadership across IPG that people of all identities are welcome at Mediabrands. The agency has signatures that clearly state our position on racism and show that all identities are welcome and visible.
UM have set up six community squads (Ability, Heritage, LGBTQ+, Men, Parents, Women). Each has Teams groups/WhatsApp communities where people can share content and experiences. Each squad has a managing partner lead to make sure any worries or ideas are surfaced. UM are holding regular listening groups with each squad – confidential and safe spaces for each of the communities.
The UM Heritage squad has been penning articles to educate the broader agency, including some very personal and candid experiences of what racism can look and feel like in its less obvious guises. This is helping to fuel an atmosphere of greater sharing.
Inspired by IPG’s founding role in Unstereotype Alliance, UM has focused its thought leadership series, UK by UM, on quantifying and tackling stigma and prejudice in society. The series has had much traction in the industry, which helps give authority to our internal messaging around equality.
UM is part of the Brixton Finishing School curriculum.
Initiative have developed the Initiative Academy, forming a partnership with a local secondary school in Islington that has a high percentage of people from low income households eligible for free school meals. The idea of the project is to educate students all about the advertising industry and the work we do to make it accessible for all, and increase awareness of media as a career. The school has a high BAME population and the project aims to improve diversity at all levels, including socioeconomic background and BAME representation in our industry. Last year they worked with a group of Year 8 students and worked on a live media brief with them, providing mentorship and guidance before they presented their findings to a judging panel. This year has been less active due to the closure of schools, however Initiative have maintained their relationship and provided advice to Year 13 students on apprenticeship applications.
Mediabrands issues a bi-weekly Open Women’s network newsletter which celebrates women in and outside our business, with a focus on people of colour.
Rapport are part of Balance OOH, which is a collective of media owners and specialist agencies from the OOH media sector, working towards a more diverse and inclusive OOH industry. Through Balance OOH, Rapport posted the following link on Twitter in August to share an interesting piece from their contact at Global, on guidelines on how to best play our part to eradicate racism.
BAME pay gap
Currently, we do not have the data to be able to calculate our ethnicity pay gap but this is something we are committed to doing in the next 12 months. We are working on data transfer and GDPR challenges to ensure that we have the correct data in the correct systems to be able to do so accurately.