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25 October 2016

The Inconvenient Truth …

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Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace is dominating the headlines and nowhere is it more important than in Marketing, Communications and PR. By their very nature Marketing and Communications has an immense influence across the fast-changing – and increasingly global – business agenda, in setting and communicating values across organisational’ culture and corporate ethos.

According to Amanda Fone – f1 recruitment’s CEO – how can brands possibly expect to reach diverse audiences across global and local markets without teams to match?  Whilst there is a tsunami of impetus growing around the subject, there’s a long way to go before Diversity & Inclusion is truly embedded from top to bottom in every business. And yes, the tide is turning, but it’s not turning fast enough to keep pace with the momentum underway across many businesses.

“First of all – let’s tackle what we actually mean by Diversity & Inclusion” she says.  “No longer is ethnicity, gender, age and disability the cornerstone of Diversity & Inclusion. The paradigm is now shifting to include sexuality, family size, physical environment, mental health and religion.  Yet even now, it is ‘evolution not revolution’ and the pace of change must accelerate if we are to see organizational change on a large scale in line with the business need. That revolution is becoming a necessity.

“Can we learn from the USA, which is increasingly promoting ‘diversity marketing’ in a major way, having woken up to the fact that white, anglo-saxon protestants no longer represent the business demographics and consumer audiences of today?  This focus is not just on how we market to all communities, but looks at how marketing needs to reflect those communities as an extension of their business.

“As Rebecca Coleman recently reported in Marketing Magazine, Diversity needs to be more than skin deep and I agree that it is unbelievable that we continue to talk about gender as an aspect of Diversity when women account for more than half of the world’s population.    In a recent survey by Marketing Magazine over 64% percent of CMO’s think the sector is at risk of becoming out touch with customers if teams DON’T diversify!  That’s a stat which the industry needs to take very seriously.

“The recently launched CIPR’ State of the Profession Survey 2014/15 has found two-thirds of PR Professionals agreed diverse teams produced ‘better campaigns’ and a happier workforce, but the CIPR diversity monitoring stats do not make for happy reading.  Even today, BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) professionals constitute just 9% of the public relations workforce”.

At the vanguard of recruitment in the sectors of Marketing, PR and Sponsorship, Fone takes the responsibility of working with clients to deliver a balanced talent pool very seriously and argues that the Marketing and PR Industries have the muscle to drive change:

“We work in a brilliant sector where recruitment agencies are representing the best brands and businesses across the world and the transitional phase has not kept pace with the need.

“Most CMOs report into the CEO, and there cannot be one professional business in the world that is not worried about diversity at the moment.   And, let’s start with the ‘root of the tree’… recruitment consultancies  that service these businesses  are still behind the curve – both within their own businesses AND in the breadth of candidate they are attracting for their clients.  A massive shake up needs to happen and more recruiters need to lead from the front.  All the stats show that a diverse workforce delivers more creativity, better balance and stronger results.

“So, why isn’t every recruitment agency training their staff on how to deliver Diversity & Inclusion as the bedrock of its service to its clients?  And more importantly, why aren’t clients asking for sight of Inclusion figures from their recruitment partners and their own in house recruitment teams. It is to my constant surprise that I have not been asked ONCE in the last decade by a client, or a candidate, about f1’s strategy to create a more diverse pipeline of talent into the marketing and comms discipline.

Marketing and Communications’ agencies and inhouse marketing communications’ teams need to look for fresh talent with new insights and cultural diversity in line with global influences. Talent that understands the  changing and diverse media landscapes in reaching multiple channel audiences whether it be through off line or online communities.  These audiences are no longer defined or restricted by geo-graphics, age, money or the physical world”.

Fone calls for all the bodies that govern and influence Marketing and PR – and Recruitment itself – to work together and create a bigger force:

“There is no doubt that the trade associations that serve Marketing, PR and Sponsorship are focused on this issue and progress is being made.  However, my point here is that ‘together many raindrops make an ocean’ and the power of the whole is more than any one individual.

“By working together, associations and business themselves have a real opportunity to create faster traction, speak with a common voice and jointly pool resources and investment into initiatives and awareness.  For example, national campaigns, schools and college career fairs for promoting awareness of careers in marketing and communications.

Remember the highly successful STEM campaign that promoted stem subjects and addressed the fall-down in adoption of science and math-based curricular by pupils? Collectively, the Chartered Institute of Marketing, IPA,  DMA, CIPR, PRCA and the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) are stronger, and would benefit from working with a highly pro-active and energised focus.

Fone believes that before radical change can be realized, the question of HOW we recruit has to be addressed:

“Stats show that over 36% of candidates are coming from Job Boards and up to 49% of new recruits are hired direct through in house recruiters.  In-house ‘bounties’ (when a member of staff recommends a new employee – otherwise known as introductory fees’) are surprisingly ineffective and often re-enforce  recruitment ‘in the like’. People need to think through how DO we get the right people on board.  For example, I would ask the question; have we trained all our recruiting teams – both in-house and agency partners – on the issue of ‘unconscious-bias’?    And, I think it safe to say that many businesses, haven’t!

“Yet, it’s straightforward to do.  Take ‘no-names CV’s’ which supports this process when recruiting talent.  Simply remove name, age, school and university names, so there is no indicator as to age, ethnicity or even gender.”

f1’s team hosts its own Diversity & Inclusion Index, which is a quarterly measurement of candidates that it is attracting who are applying for roles it is handling. These roles are working across house-hold named brands as well as leading Marketing, PR and Sponsorships agencies on both a country and global level.

“The last three years has seen momentum that goes ahead of industry stats” says Fone.  “We now see 20%  of our candidates coming from minority ethnic groups, as opposed to 13% in 2010. We have had to work very hard over the last five years to reach deep into communities that would not previously have considered Marketing, PR or Sponsorship as a career of choice. We want to reach 25% over the next few years.

“In the words of Malcolm Forbes: “Diversity, is the art of thinking independently together”.  So let’s all work together for change, and create an ocean of opportunity and inspiration”…