Advertising Week Europe

Advertising Week Europe 2017 Official Guide

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MEC challenges itself and the industry to change the conversation about diversity and inclusion in recruitment and how we work for clients When it comes to your personal biases about age, race, gender, disability or re- gional accents, you can run, but you can't hide. We all have biases, no matter how open-minded we think we are, because most of them are unconscious. When Marie-Claire Barker joined MEC in 2014 as its first Global Chief Talent Officer, she set the bar high, expressing a desire to transform the face of talent management in the industry. Barker wanted to smash the barriers preventing employees from reaching their potential— especially ones related to bias. At New York's Advertising Week, MEC launched #BraveYourBias, an industry- wide call to celebrate diversity and prioritise inclusion. Marketers and their agencies may unwittingly filter out certain individuals, says Barker, creating teams who look or sound much like them. Understanding unconscious bias can pave the way toward an open, collaborative corporate culture. "We're doing this because nobody else was doing it, and we didn't want to keep attacking the problem in the same way," says Barker. "The problem is about behaviour, and how people draw their assumptions—rightly or wrongly—about the people that they work with and whom they bring into the organisation. We can compete for clients—we don't need to be competing against what's morally right for our organisations." behavioural issues that make the organ- isation feel and act differently," she says. "You may tick the box with them coming in, but how long are they staying, and do they feel they have a voice at the table?" Barker says she's received great support for #BraveYourBias, probably because people are tired of having the same con- versation over and over again. "Whether we're putting together a pitch team or filling an international posting, we have to keep challenging people to not make assumptions," she says. An Across-The-Board Strategy To Banish Bias BraveYourBias complements other new MEC talent initiatives, such as empathy and relationship building. In 2017, the agency will be sending out monthly pulse point questions with a focus on inclusivity, and recently introduced Reflektive, a real- time feedback and social recognition tool. "We're also looking at the competency- based recruitment model more," adds Barker. "Blind recruiting gets somebody in the door, but if your hiring manager still has that bias, you're not any further along." Interactive Learning And Action- able Takeaways Since early December, visitors to MEC Global's Facebook page have chatted with a bot that helps confront uncon- scious bias. The bot sends users daily messages imploring them to question assumptions, focus on individuals, or help others beat back their biases. BraveYourBias.com's tip sheet features ways to analyse decisions, embrace posi- tive attributes, and—Barker's favourite— "Be brave enough to be uncomfortable." "We need to support people in feeling uncomfortable," she says, "knowing there's a result at the end of it." Building and promoting an intentionally inclusive environment is achievable. Dis- cover your own bias here. We dare you. Uncovering Hidden Truths At the New York event, MEC hosted a Brave Your Bias Challenge, inviting the industry to take the Harvard Implicit Association Test, which helps partici- pants discover and examine their biases. On-site coaches and counsellors offered advice and support. "We launched it internally at the same time, asking people to sign our Pledge Wall in the lobby, saying they'd braved their bias," says Barker. Buried biases, especially about race and gender, affect the work we do for clients, how we make decisions, and how we communicate with each other. "These biases are damaging not just to the look and feel of our organisation, but to the input and ideas we're getting, and to how we're representing our clients," notes Barker. Why Are We Still Talking About This … In 2017? While the industry has implemented quantifiable processes, such as insisting that recruiters bring in a diverse slate of candidates, or "blind hiring", Barker wants to go further. "Don't just do the short-term tactical piec- es to make the organisation look different. Start really addressing the longer-term AWE 2017 169

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