As a company, R/GA London is focused on ‘racial equity’. It’s an approach that ensures everyone has access to the same opportunities. Equity recognises that advantages and barriers exist, and that, as a result we all do not start from the same place. As part of this we recognise that:
There are no easy fixes. No single action is going to get us to racial equity, we have to run at a lot of things at once.
This is going to take time. We’re not going to get there overnight and we need a way to measure the success of our actions over time.
Everyone’s got to help. We’re changing a culture. Leadership can model and mandate anti-racist behaviour, but everyone has to come on the journey.
While there are some basic actions that must be taken to advance an anti-racist culture, we wanted to build on these actions to create a plan that was specific to our own company.
Here are some of the initiatives and policies we have put in place in response to the Black Lives Matter movement since May:
1. We ran, in partnership with Creative Equals, a ‘Safe Space’ session for our black employees. This was a confidential setting to express our individual truths and experiences.
2. R/GA London then held a further ‘Safe Space’ session for all employees, with full leadership attendance. This intimate, interactive workshop explored our own cultural heritage, recognising that we all are brought up with our own set of cultural beliefs, biases and privileges. This was used as a time to understand our stories, our pasts and look to the future. We explored the importance of language, what allyship means and how to communicate better with each other, with the knowledge we all come from a place of positive intention. Both sessions were hosted by Creative Equals coach Lydia Amoah.
3. We were in discussions at the beginning of the year and are currently in the early stages of rolling out the Global Equality Standard Accreditation with Creative Equals in the UK. The analysis stage will take one month across the 5 markets, and we'd be looking to present back a debrief on w/c 28 September, with actions and recommendations we can embed immediately. This data will feed into our benchmarking and build upon our existing Equity, Diversity & Inclusion plan.
4. In the immediate response to the Black Lives Matter movement, R/GA London made a donation to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust. The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust is an educational charity, which was created “to tackle inequality in all forms” and is committed to “transforming the life chances of young people and improving the world in which they live”.
5. We established Brave Space Listening Sessions. The purpose of these themes is to become better aware of the unique challenges our black and brown employees face so we can address them and take action towards an anti-racist culture and permanent racial equity at R/GA.
6. We established London bi-weekly listening sessions between leaders and black, Asian and multi-ethnic employees.
7. R/GA has signed up to sponsor “One School”, a free online portal to bring a new generation of Black creatives into advertising. It’s for talent that may have not had the opportunities to go to or pay for traditional advertising and design schools. The 16-week portfolio program’s purpose is designed to give black creatives access to the industry’s best black creative leaders to help them create world class portfolios that open doors. https://www.oneschoolny.org/
8. We have evolved our reviews process and introduced “skip level” reviews as part of our inclusion strategy. This will mean as part of your R/GA review you will have the option for an informal review with the level above your manager - this reduces any bias. In addition to this, we have introduced anniversary check-ins - a 30 minute check in with SVP managing director, Rebecca Bezzina for all staff, to further help address any issues and allow everyone to be heard.
9. We are running ongoing additional unconscious bias training - open to all with full leadership attendance.
10. We provided all leadership with a detailed guide on how to speak to black, Asian and multi-ethnic employees and how to have more awareness.
11. R/GA London has renewed our partnership for 2020 with Brixton Finishing School, which was agreed in 2019, and this will enable us to continue to disrupt how we find new and diverse talent.
12. We established the global The Intersection slack group - A place for R/GA staff to come together on issues of equity and inclusion.
13. On June 18, 2020 R/GA became the first agency to publicly share its internal diversity data during an R/GA Live webinar event. We subsequently published the (US only) data on Medium. While this data was US only, we are working on generating similar global metrics and aggregating that data.
14. Globally, we have established a pilot program with a company called Crescendo, which uses slack as a tool for ongoing education. The curriculum will help all R/GA staff to understand more about racial equity, the barriers to it, and what we can do to confront it.
15. R/GA kicked off the BEN Allyship program in Aug - The BEN Allyship program has been designed to enable each of us to be more culturally competent in the way we approach our work, engage with colleagues, and take part in our larger communities. This program will be mandatory, and it is designed to create a valuable discussion around personal blind spots and ways to be a better ally on both small and large scales.
16. We have developed new anti-racism and anti-harassment policies that have been shared with the agency internally. As part of this review of all our policies we have undergone vendor analysis - a process that is ongoing and will focus on us the auditing and redistribution of work and partnerships to black vendors.
Brixton Finishing School / SCA partnership - Our partnership with Brixton Finishing School, a not for profit, industry funded school is challenging the lack of diversity in advertising and has helped us disrupt how we find talent. To-date, R/GA London has curated a new five part series strategy masterclass as part of this course. We also collaborated on Campaign’s Magazine’s documentary, Hear Me Adland, which focuses on creative young talent and diversity & inclusion in the including R/GA London’s very own strategy intern Hannah Vatandoust from Brixton Finishing School.
And in 2019 the results spoke for themselves. With the Brixton Finishing School partnership, scholarships we’ve run with London School of Arts and, importantly, our new approach to talent - where hiring managers have all been trained in unconscious bias - in the London office last year we hired over 35% more female creatives than in 2018, while BAME hires were over 50% increased.
BAME pay gap
Historically, R/GA in the UK has not stored data on BAME and we have never asked our London staff what ethnicity or race they are. Therefore providing the BAME pay gap would currently involve some element of guesswork, which we would not want to do. However, we are hoping to change our policy and approach to this moving forward and begin formalising the collection of this data. The insights we get from our Creative Equals Global Equality Standard Accreditation will play a part in how we effectively create a new strategy to start collecting this data.