Ask FleishmanHillard's UK CEO, Jim Donaldson, about the driving force behind the company’s five major agency of the year awards in 2021, and the answer is simple.
“First and foremost, it’s our people,” he says. “We have a diverse team of experts who are motivated to be the very best they can be, and in turn, deliver the very best for our clients. I truly believe that’s because we have created a company where people enjoy the work they do, and can see us as a place to grow their careers, with support every step of the way.”
A large part of this is FleishmanHillard’s focus on giving its team the opportunities to do great work, whether that’s through their clients, through pro bono work that resonates with their values, or by working from within through the company’s groups and initiatives.
“We want people's time at FleishmanHillard to be career defining,” says Donaldson. “And that means doing amazing work that they'll remember for the rest of their lives. That’s our focus above all else.”
“Always new challenges around the corner”
That’s certainly something that Deborah Nazareth, a director at FleishmanHillard, has experienced in her eight years with the company. With 20 years of communications experience under her belt, her longevity in the business, particularly given the current talent market, speaks volumes.
“I think one of the reasons I’ve stayed so long is that the work is just so varied, and it's so much broader than other agencies I’ve been at,” she says. “We're always offering new ideas for clients, we’re always innovating and our clients are receptive to our ideas. So I know that there are always going to be new challenges around the corner.”
She adds: “One of the reasons behind this is the company’s willingness to invest in roles that aren’t always billable, like our specialist teams. Having them on board is transformational in terms of the work we can produce, and it means we are often suggesting and delivering things for clients that they’ve never done or thought about before. That’s really exciting.”
Of these specialist teams, the strategic diversity and inclusion expertise of True MOSAIC — a global group of counsellors with lived experience from across the business — is one that sits increasingly at the centre of everything that FleishmanHillard does. DE&I has always been important to the company, but with a goal set in 2019 to become the most diverse and inclusive agency in the country, it’s moving it deeper to the centre of its operations all the time.
A culture rooted in DE&I
Christina Peach joined FleishmanHillard UK seven years ago and is now an associate director in its brand marketing practice with a DE&I specialism. She is co-chair of OPEN Pride UK + Allies and the new EMEA regional lead for True MOSAIC, the DE&I team within FH. Whether it’s working on #Wethe15 with the International Paralympics Committee to advance the lives of 1.2 billion people with disabilities or helping to launch a LGBT+ newswire that breaks news and saves lives, Peach’s work is wide ranging but with a central focus.
“The culture of FH is rooted in DE&I, and there's a real feeling of people coming together to try and advance inclusion for all,” she says. “I think it is really motivating for people, and whether you look at things like our year-round wellness initiative, FH Club, or the pro bono work we do through our FH4Inclusion programme, it culminates in this really inclusive environment that starts internally and radiates out.”
She continues: “I think that’s really essential, and puts us in a great position to inform and guide our clients, helping them to navigate a really important, sometimes complex topic. Culture is evolving all the time, language is changing and it’s imperative that brands keep up. The work that we also do with True MOSAIC, and the DE&I focused service that we can offer to clients, is a real game changer, and perfectly timed too.”
Doing work you’re passionate about
By offering employees the opportunity to do work that they’re passionate about, while nurturing and growing their talents too, FleishmanHillard has managed to swerve the high employee turnover that agencies can struggle with.
“When I first started in my career, you'd often hear people talking about whether a candidate would be a ‘good fit’ for the business,” says Nazareth. “But here, diversity of thought and experience is only ever a benefit, never a weakness.
“I have three children and over the years, their needs have changed. But at every point throughout that time, I've found that FleishmanHillard — from senior management to everyone on my teams — has taken a holistic view of me as an employee. That encompasses both my home and work life and has evolved with my needs. I think that's really amazing.”
Room to shape and grow your career
TJ Jordan joined FleishmanHillard UK on the graduate programme in 2019 and progressed to a senior account executive role in the social & innovation team. However, after realising he had a flair and passion for the more creative side of the business, he was able to move over to the creative and planning team full time. He puts this down to the scale of the business, as well as the training and culture of management to embrace talent wherever they find it.
“FleishmanHillard initially appealed because of its huge global presence and its broad range of clients. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was I wanted to do, so it made sense for me to cut my teeth in a broad space with room to grow.
“As soon as I realised I had a passion for the creative side of the business, I was given the freedom to explore that, even though it wasn’t a central part of my job at the time. Our creative directors would often pull me into ideation sessions to help build up my skills and experience, and when the opportunity arose to move across to that full time, I was supported and nurtured with training and mentoring to bolster my natural strengths with more strategic considerations.”
Be proud of who you work for
Having hired over 100 new staff in 2021, and with the business continuing to grow, Donaldson is now looking forward to the year ahead and the new talent that they hope to add to the company.
“We want to attract the very best people, from in-house, agency side and university, and to do that, we know we have to be an attractive proposition for people. So that’s what we’ve worked really hard to create here at FleishmanHillard.
“We know people are making career choices based on culture, based on leadership, based on values, and based on the things that are important to them. Jobs are more than a 9-to-5 these days, people want to wear a badge of honour for who they work for, so you need to make them feel proud to work for you.
“That’s my focus when I get out of bed every day. I think we’re doing a pretty good job.”
Watch: FleishmanHillard UK's 2021 FHestival Highlights
This article was originally published on PRWeek here.