I was on a panel the other day talking about increasing ethnic minority representation in the out-of-home advertising sector, organised by Balance, an initiative supported by OOH specialists and media owners to drive greater diversity. The focus of the discussion was on the workforce rather than representation.

It is a subject about which I am passionate, so not surprisingly I really enjoyed it. I was excited by the level of interest in the subject, both from young people who were just starting their careers in the sector and their senior leaders.

There were a few common themes, none of which were terribly surprising. Reflecting on the discussion a few days later, it occurred to me that we need to adopt the same approach to diversity (in this case ethnic diversity) as we do marketing briefs.

First things first, you need to define the brief. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Is it that you are struggling to recruit people from different backgrounds? Is it a retention problem? Is it a problem throughout the organisation or just at the top? Is it all these and more? My strong advice is that you tackle things in bite-sized chunks; don’t try to boil the ocean.

“Feeling like I can be me and not a white, male version of me makes a massive difference to how I feel about work and to my performance”.

As with everything we do as marketers, data is our friend. Review how many people from your target audience are applying for roles, getting past the first sift, being interviewed, getting offers, accepting offers, passing probationary periods, getting promoted, getting opportunities to work on special projects, getting pitch experience, being put on performance plans.

In short, you need to measure who is succeeding. The numbers will give you a clear picture of what is going on in your organisation. Of course, they can’t tell you why but at least you will know where to look.

Talking of looking, you need to think carefully about the audience you are trying to reach and where you might find them. In recruitment terms I know it is hard – we remain an industry that people want to join so most of us have queues of junior people who want to work for us.

The easiest thing in the world is to select new team members on the recommendation of people we know. We can all think of the offspring of senior members of staff, clients or mates of the CEO who managed to land an account exec role.

They may well be very good as individuals but appointing them is probably not going to increase the diversity of your workplace. You have to look beyond the usual suspects and usual places, targeting recruits in the places they are most likely to be, not the places you are.

 

SOURCE: Tanya Joseph