MediaCom UK has a strong and clear inclusion and diversity goal that as an agency we will become the most inclusive agency in the UK. You can read more about our commitment to I&D on our website here.
Specifically, in response to the BLM movement we have worked more collaboratively than ever with Roots, our employee resource group focussed on ethnicity. As such we have introduced some new initiatives and have fast-tracked existing ones to drive the necessary change to make MediaCom a more inclusive organisation with equitable opportunities for all.
Powered by our Roots ERG we have introduced minimum standards. This includes 14 company mandates which ensure measurement and support. These include: a sponsorship programme for BAME employees; the collection of internal data regarding who applies for role, who gets through screening and who gets the job to help identify bias; the development of more diverse pitch teams; the implementation of task based assessments for external and internal recruitment; the reporting of the ethnicity pay gap which WPP and GroupM have committed all of their agencies to.
Microaggressions Project (in progress prior to the increased momentum behind the BLM movement)
Secondly, we have launched a microaggressions project. Through our annual cultural listening exercises, we had found that microaggressions can be commonplace in the workplace. Whether based on race, age, gender, sexuality, disability or social background, it’s important to us that employees fully understand the impact microaggressions can have on an individual, so we chose to tackle it head on.
We launched the project in a Town Hall with an eye-opening video and followed up with mandatory training to help people recognise microaggressions. This will lead to wider allyship training focussing on helping employees to call out the behaviour when they see or hear it. We view this training as imperative in order to foster an inclusive workplace – it should not be optional for anyone.
Sponsorship Programme (Introduced prior to the increased momentum behind the BLM movement)
We have extended our sponsorship scheme, which pairs senior leaders from across the business with black, Asian and ethnic minority talent. The leaders are given 12 to 18 months to help an employee up to the next step of their career. This is not just about giving advice, it’s the opportunity for the senior representative to introduce the talent to their network and bring them into new situations such as meetings and pitches.
We are also aiming to extend the scheme and build a community among those being sponsored that would allow people of colour to be represented at all levels.
MediaCom’s “Diversity, Inclusions & Belonging Charter for Change”
MediaCom has committed to becoming known globally as the leading agency in our industry for diversity and inclusion. We have committed to 10 mandates globally which are focussed on actions and accountability across our network and our clients.
Global Belonging Council
We have recently announced the formation of our first Global Belonging Council which is made up of a diverse mix of people, including global clients and local market leadership, who will work alongside our global WPP and GroupM colleagues to drive sustainable change. This council reports into our global CEO and includes many senior people who can influence change where needed.
MediaCom has always prided itself on putting our people first, and so we have long since worked to develop a culture which is consciously inclusive of all. This starts with our recruitment – and in particular our entry-level talent schemes – but continues throughout the agency. We continually check in with our staff through belonging surveys, candid conversations, our ERGs and ongoing mandatory training to ensure that we are a business which serves to serve everyone.
Our entry-level talent schemes have long had inclusion at their heart. This is shown in both the apprenticeship scheme itself and in the recruitment processes, our insight days, our charity partnerships and our recruitment process.
We were the pioneers of apprentices in the creative industries. Having started our scheme in 2012, this year we will have welcomed our 91st school leaver through our doors. Our apprentices form a core part of our entry level recruitment and we have unearthed some of our best, most exciting talent through our schemes. It has also enabled us to make huge improvements to our social mobility. 35% of our early talent is from a BAME background vs an industry average of 16.9% (IPA agency census 2018).
We continue to ensure MediaCom is accessing progressing talent from all backgrounds. In 2019 we were ranked #58 in the Social Mobility Index. We continue to focus our Early Talent engagement towards a variety of schools and colleges, taking into account the social economic background of students.
We regularly host Insight Days for young people from diverse backgrounds, often giving them their first opportunity to walk through the doors of an office. Through a series of practical exercises, Q&As, panels, networking and tours, we are able to offer a real sense of life in a media agency. The days are designed and delivered by our junior talent, ensuring it’s as empathic and relatable as possible, and we recruit a high number of people through these events.
Additionally, we partner with charities such as The Talent Foundry, Drive Forward, Media Trust, Brixton Finishing School and Key 4 Life, opening the doors of MediaCom to young people from all backgrounds.
We have long since scrutinised our recruitment processes to ensure that they are inclusive. In 2011 we removed all education criteria and in 2012 we stopped looking at CVs during the entry-level talent application process. We recognise that we limit ourselves if we assume that the education system is suitable and accessible for everyone. Instead we focus on questions such as "Tell us about a time you’ve been brave" and "What are you passionate about?" We use the platform Applied to help create a fair and unbiased process for our future talent by stripping back all information about the individual and so removing bias from the application. We also ensure that we have a diverse panel of assessors during assessment days. Re-designing the system has already delivered clear results with different people thriving from the process.
Cultural Accelerator Programme
Working with Creative Equals and Lydia Amoah, we have implemented a cultural development programme. With space for up to 30 of our people, this programme is all about acknowledging and addressing the additional barriers and challenges faced by underrepresented talent in the industry. We are working on reducing and eliminating these barriers, but this programme shows the challenges some people encounter while offering the tools to tackle the self-limiting beliefs that are often the result of these encounters.
ERGs and "Candid Conversations"
We have seven Employee Resource Groups focussing on ethnicity, age, sexuality, faith, disability, gender and mental health. Our ERGs are instrumental to our inclusion work – they introduce initiatives, host events to celebrate and acknowledge cultural occasions and ensure the conversations around inclusivity are prevalent in our agency and our work.
We also have a number of people who volunteer to participate in our Candid Conversations initiative, a cultural listening project that enables us to understand the lived experiences of our people.
To ensure that MediaCom is a place that works for everyone, we ran an agency-wide Belonging Survey at the start of the year. This was a WPP-wide initiative that has influenced our approach to I&D at a local and global level. The insights have given us precise data on exactly what we need to tackle to ensure our initiatives are directly addressing areas of need.
Working with our clients and the broader industry
An example of how we do this is the Glass Wall Network which is open to the whole industry. It actively promotes greater diversity and inclusion. You can read our commitments here. We have recently embarked with many of our senior clients and in partnership with the IPA, AA and ISBA on an industry-wide diversity and inclusion monitoring tool for all consumer-based advertising both in front and behind the camera. We are keen that this is open to all so if you would like to be involved please contact us here. We are committed to sharing our inclusion journey with our clients and media partners and are open to learning from others.
Finally, we have also introduced ethnicity targets to address the challenge of representation of BAME people at senior levels within our agency, a challenge that many organisations within our industry have.
BAME pay gap
Our holding company WPP, in partnership with GroupM, are currently looking at the ethnicity pay gap data. This is a huge project requiring new systems and validation of data.