Agencies should apply their unique strategic and problem-solving skills to the task of enhancing the level of inclusivity in the sector, and thus help achieve a crucial goal for the industry.

Lukeisha Paul, GroupM’s managing partner/head of diversity, equity and inclusion, discussed this subject at the 2019 Decisions 20/20 conference held by the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies).

And she argued that significant progress is required in making agencies truly inclusive – right through from recruitment and promotion to providing child care options and developing management accountability.

Equally, however, the industry is perhaps uniquely equipped to tackle this issue given that it specialises in addressing the needs of their clients.

“I actually don’t think that diversity is such a challenge,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: GroupM offers a response to industry’s cultural isolation.)

“Maybe it’s because I’ve come from a media background. I’ve had a number of different clients – difficult, challenging clients – and part of my job has been to serve that client with whatever amount of money they give us, to give them the world that they’re asking for. We figure out how to get that done.”

This ability to identify problems to be solved, and craft enduring solutions, should be applied by agencies to forward the inclusivity agenda – something that GroupM has pursued in practice.

“When we looked at the challenges that we’ve had moving our industry from being all-male and wanting to make it more female, we put a strategy in place,” said Paul.

“The strategy was to make it more attractive to a female audience. And what did we do? We changed up the policies. We got better maternity-relief policies in place. We now offer nursing rooms at our offices.

“We also put in place situations where we can help women be more comfortable with family matters – concerns such as back-up daycare, as well as [services] that help transport breast milk so that women can still travel on their job.”

When GroupM was challenged to attract younger workers, it strategised to make certain it was recognised as a workplace that would appeal to this demographic, from a games room to flexible working plans.

“These are both strategies that we put in place to reach the target audiences that we want to reach,” said Paul. “That’s what we’ve been trained to do in this industry.”

Sourced from WARC