Advertising Week Europe

Advertising Week Europe 2017 Official Guide

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AWE 2017 161 Is Workplace Diversity An Elusive Goal? "It's more inspiring to be surrounded by people who are different from you," she says. "I just think it's more fun, and it's more interesting." And there is a strong financial case for diversity in staffing. According to McKinsey, companies that hire an ethnically, racially, and gender-diverse workforce are up to 35 percent more likely to outperform their national industry medians. "Learning about other people builds great teams and a happier workforce that supports all of us, ensuring well-being, more resil- ience, better outcomes and less stress," says Soraya Shaw, head of careers at the National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS). But when it comes to putting these ideals into practice, organisations often fall short. Company leaders aren't clear about what diversity means to a firm and its employees, says Shaw, or about how they plan to deliver it. And they may be unaware of their own biases and how to overcome them. "The spirit is willing, and they are enthusi- astic about the idea of it, but any significant change, particularly a cultural change, takes a huge amount of effort, process and energy on behalf of the whole organisation," says Clay. Everyone agrees that a diverse workplace can be a big advantage in advertising, an industry that thrives on creativity and innovation. Still, though companies recognise the benefits of diversity, well into the 21st century many are still struggling to achieve it. Diversity of thought, and of thought leadership, creates the perfect environment for generating new ideas, says Lindsey Clay, CEO of Thinkbox and a past president of Women in Advertising and Communications London. GAINING A COMPETITIVE EDGE Clay believes that one way companies can attract a more diverse workforce is by tak- ing a page out of American football's book and adapting that sport's Rooney Rule—a policy requiring teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and general manager jobs. The Rooney Rule isn't about quotas: it's about opening doors to opportu- nities for everyone. Shaw echoes that idea, saying companies should "ensure that diversity is woven into their recruitment policies… ensuring that there is fairness and opportunities for every- one, highlighting biases that they may see or be aware of." LANDING A JOB If you are looking to work for a diverse com- pany, there are tactics you can use at the interview stage to help make this a reality. Both Clay and Shaw encourage job can- didates to quiz interviewers about parent policies, growth opportunities, age demo- graphics, leadership and the gender split among management. If you see a lack of diversity at top levels, ask if there are plans to change that and if goals have been set. Clay also recommends looking at the inter- view panel itself: how diverse is the team you are talking to? She suggests asking how the company performs on equal pay. Man- agement should have numbers available; if they don't, it's a good indication that they have work to do on this issue. LEADING BY EXAMPLE Knowing that perception and reality aren't always in alignment, Clay decided to count the number of women on stage at last year's Advertising Week. When she pointed out the small ratio of women to men, Matt Scheckner, CEO of Advertising Week, told her his goal is a 50/50 gender split. "This is obviously a journey. You can't transform everything overnight, but I think that's a brilliant challenge to accept, and Matt has responded brilliantly," Clay said. A Diverse Workforce May Be More Inspiring, But Companies Still Struggle To Turn The Ideal Into A Reality by Traci Browne "It's more inspiring to be surrounded by people who are different from you."

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