BLM response: M&C Saatchi

14% of permanent staff are BAME.

BLM response: M&C Saatchi

New initiatives

The senseless killing of George Floyd has ignited outrage and shock across the world. We recognise that the systemic and systematic inequality and injustices that exist in our society, our industry and our company must be tackled with more urgency than ever.

We are taking action to ensure we are a fair and equitable organisation, representative of the global societies in which we operate by prioritising our commitment to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace and to be intentional in our actions and allyship. From the lived experience of our employees, to the commitments we make to black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities, as well as the influence we have on culture through our communications, we must serve as leaders, allies and advocates, driving change through our actions and not just words.

We recognise there is a lot to be done. We will be honest about what we need to change, be transparent about what we plan to do and be accountable for the targets we set.

We have four pillars that our Black Lives Matter work fits under, each of which have different actions that we’ve taken or are taking:

1. Stay noisy - Equipping people with the awareness and skills they need to be a positive force at work:

    • We delivered additional training around the BLM movement. Modules included: Contextualising underrepresentation, Understanding black communities, Microaggressions and allyship and safe space: Let’s talk about race. Training continues to be a focus.

    • We have created safe spaces for our BAME colleagues to share their experiences and talk about the impact of BLM.

    • We held an anti-racism workshop – an open discussion where people were able to share their experiences of racism and the anti-racism protests, in the context of George Floyd’s death. In smaller breakout groups we went on to discuss the ways our agency can work to create positive change through combating racism and discrimination, both within the company and wider industry.

    • We have recently appointed a black therapist who we will be getting in to conduct a small group session with those who feel directly affected by the reignited BLM movement and then a larger session for the entire group to provide tools to help those who were not directly affected by the movement to interact with and support the colleagues who were and to provide insight into how this affects them. 

    • We are working on a survey of both diversity and inclusion that will set the tone for how we move forward. This survey will look at quantitative data on diversity but also examine how various groups are feeling and are included (or not) in the culture.

2. Staff up – Achieving diversity of talent across the business by building a diverse and inclusive team from pipeline, i.e. finding and nurturing young talent and crucially finding and nurturing in-career BAME talent:

  • We recently launched M&C Saatchi Open House, a free, eight-week online training course open to anyone. The programme is designed to help everyone, whether they are studying, looking for a career move or returning to work after a break, to learn about the world of marketing and communications, with the possibility of being shortlisted for a future role at M&C Saatchi at the end of the course. Excitingly, we’ve had 1,500 registrations in just two weeks, and we can see that the ambition of the scheme, to attract more diverse talent, is looking positive with 35% BAME participants signing up.
  • We have always strived to ensure that we don’t have any bias to characteristics when shortlisting candidates. We are now updating our recruitment policy and recruitment approach to remove bias wherever possible. 

3. Take action – Supporting positive organisations and initiatives:

  • We have been developing the M&C Saatchi Saturday School initiative for some time, and it’s really starting to grow and deliver impact. Saturday School, which has been running for a year, involves teaching communities around the world about the basics of business. It is open to all, with particular focus on black women, women of colour and young people aged 16-25. In under a year we have taught over 3,000 students. Adapting to Covid-19, Saturday School has recently partnered with Sky to make all our classes available online, in order to further broaden the reach of the programme to support as many minority-run businesses as possible. The classes can now be found at
  • We supported Akil Benjamin, the founder of Saturday School, to further improve the offering in response the BLM movement. This has led to the launch of the Mentor Black Businesses (MBB) programme, which has over 1,000 participants and counting, equating to 500 black businesses and 500 mentors. Offering mentorship, training and online masterclasses from the best brands and people in the industry people, MBB has partnered with Google Digital Garage, Lloyds Bank, Virgin Start Ups and Camden Brewery to deliver this meaningful programme to ensure black businesses are supported as they grow and develop in this economy and future business environment. 

4. Zero tolerance – Defining principles and behaviours we can expect from our staff, clients and suppliers.

Our commitment is published on our website. 

Our chief executive Camilla Kemp, like all M&C Saatchi Group agency leaders, has set targets to measure progress against these initiatives.

Existing initiatives

In 2017, we conducted a thorough review of our equity, diversity and inclusion position, and appointed a new worldwide head of culture and inclusion (WWH of C&I), as well as introducing a new annual diversity and inclusion staff survey which provided fresh insight into agency make-up and the experience of working at M&C Saatchi. This informed a new agency-wide EDI strategy, built around the SMART methodology. 

  • Recruitment 

  • Policy development 

  • Employee-led networks 

  • Training and events 

  • Monitoring diversity, inclusion and belonging 

  • Gender Pay Gap monitoring

  • Partnerships and community outreach 

In 2020 we appointed a new group chair of inclusion and diversity, Jane Boardman, who represents I&D at a group executive board level. We carried out a strategic review of our I&D policy and have just completed a new strategy and action plan that was co-created across the group to be truly inclusive.  

Across M&C Saatchi Group, we operate six employee-led networks that represent underrepresented groups within our workforce. These provide a platform for discussion and influence, helping to ensure all voices are heard and that our people are able to influence our policy creation and delivery.

These networks are: 

  • Heritage: Representing our black, Asian and minority ethnic communities 

  • Equals: Representing women and non-binary people in the agency  

  • Family: Representing parents and carers in the agency 

  • Proud: Representing the LGBTQ+ community 

  • Together: Supporting those with mental health and accessibility issues 

  • Juniors: Representing those starting out on their career paths in the agency 

Each of these networks has its own strategic plan to drive change, awareness and engagement. The Heritage group has a three-pronged approach: advocacy, celebration and learn. 

We are also acutely aware of our position of influence within the media industry and work closely with a select number of organisations within the EDI community to add value to and accelerate their impact. These include Queer Britain, which we support with pro-bono office space, creative and strategic resource, and also the #56BlackMen movement for whom we hosted their first-ever exhibition. We will continue to support their efforts to encourage the media industry to start representing black men in a far more positive light. 

We continue to be active contributors to Brixton Finishing School.

BAME pay gap

We will be looking at implementing this in the future once our new data on diversity and representation is published.

Return to main feature page