On Wednesday the 9th May, over 100 representatives from across the OOH industry came together for the very first time to launch BALANCE, an initiative to actively drive diversity within OOH.

BALANCE aims to embed a culture of diversity and inclusion within OOH by promoting best practices for recruitment and retention of talent and building a network and calendar of events providing support, advice, motivation and inspiration to help attract and retain great talent in OOH.

Kinetic are chairing the committee in 2018, working alongside Clear Channel, Exterion Media, JCDecaux, Ocean Outdoor, Outdoorplus, Posterscope, Primesight, Rapport, Talon and 8 Outdoor.

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BALANCE founder and 2018 chair, Nicole Lonsdale, kicked off proceedings by sharing her vision for the network, what it hopes to achieve and some initiatives already in action.

As a first step, the BALANCE committee are currently undertaking an audit of their individual businesses across gender, BAME and age to determine priorities and areas of focus for the coming year.

The committee has also pledged to create more senior female role models within each BALANCE company and will be ensuring that every business proactively puts forward women as presenters and panellists at conferences, as well as judges at industry awards.

Nicole emphasised why collaboration on this issue is key to generate the required impact across the sector, build passion and longevity for the cause and ultimately ensure more productive, profitable and creative businesses, where staff feel genuinely happy and motivated.

Kinetic’s CEO Stuart Taylor then took the stage to share his own story of growing up with powerful female role models and the positive impact it had on shaping both his career and personal life.

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He also shared some of the initiatives Kinetic have implemented on its journey to build a more diverse talent pool and embed a culture of inclusion. These included confidence workshops for female managers from RADA, fathers in the workplace conferences, an apprentice programme, unconscious bias training and diversity week.

Stuart then welcomed Josh Graff, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn to the stage.

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Josh spoke about his personal journey which included the difficulties he faced coming out as a gay man, particularly in the workplace. He has now tasked himself and LinkedIn with putting DIBs – diversity, inclusion, but also belonging – at the top of its business agenda. He shared how LinkedIn are putting this into practice:

  1. Diversity of hiring – unconscious bias training for staff, interviewing a 50/50 gender split for all roles, creation of sponsors for staff (which he feels has impact on individuals over and above mentoring) and a range of enhanced family friendly benefits.
  2. External Partnerships – working with other diversity and inclusion groups including WACL, Women in Tech, #HeforShe and the WEF.
  3. Training of Managers on DIBs – why it’s important, how to manage new parents in the workplace, legislation, the importance of telling your own personal story and reassuring men in the room that women aren’t ‘out to get them’.
  4. Creation of employee resource groups (ERGs) that work collaboratively across LinkedIn including a Women@LinkedIn group and a rising stars programme.

For Josh, developing a diverse talent pool is the first step, but creating an inclusive culture where people feel they belong and can be their true self will result in the most productive environment and one where the workforce can truly thrive.

Next up we heard from Sarah Jenkins, CMO at Grey London and Founder of Diversity Taskforce.

Sarah took us through Grey’s diversity and inclusion journey starting right at the beginning – Grey was founded in 1917 by two Jewish men, Valenstein and Fatt, who felt that in order for their business to prosper they couldn’t use their actual names. Last year, to help celebrate the company’s 100th birthday, it changed its name in their honour – so, Grey become Valenstein and Fatt for 9 months!

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Sarah stressed the importance of data when developing your approach to diversity and inclusion. The data doesn’t lie, so needs to be the starting point for how a company should focus its priorities in this area – how many women are on the executive team? How many BAME employees at different levels are there? What are people’s ages? How many working parents? Etc. At Grey, this data was produced following a census carried out across the business. The results led to three core projects to drive change:

  1. 100 school programme – working in partnership with schools in areas of disadvantage where there is the opportunity to receive a bursary from Grey London.
  2. Mentoring programme – in the community but also internally at Grey.
  3. Diversity Taskforce – a group of creative and media agencies who meet regularly to drive change (a similar set up to Balance)

Sarah cautioned how it’s easy to create an attitudinal shift, but a lot harder and more work, to affect a behavioural shift. It’s vital to establish great role models within a company, to spread and influence new patterns of behaviour. Any diversity and inclusion initiative within an organisation must by driven by senior leadership, and it has to exist at the heart of a company’s culture. She finished by emphasising again that collecting data is an imperative and must be the starting point for all projects in this space.

For the OOH industry, diversity has been a topic we’ve talked about informally, but now with the launch of Balance and its first event, it’s something we’re proactively working on, together. Many thanks to those who attended, we’ve had lots of positive feedback on the event and the wider BALANCE initiative. Please share any further feedback you
have here.

We look forward to working collaboratively to create an OOH for the future.

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