7 steps for cultivating diversity, inclusion and allyship in the work place

Jack Blog

April 29th, 2019 By Natalie Ackerman

cultivating diversityDiversity and inclusion is not a trend, it’s a commitment – and one that we at Jack have taken to heart over the years. If you work at Jack, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is what you do. It’s more than just a series of activations and awareness days, it’s a mindset.

So how do you make DEI a part of your work culture? Simple daily inclusive practices are like any other skill. When practiced regularly, they become habitual. In honor of diversity awareness month, and as the lead of Jack’s global DEI efforts, I’m sharing some ideas for cultivating a more diverse, inclusive work place. Some are easy to implement, some take more effort and commitment, but the most important thing is to start the journey and continue to evolve it.

Step 1: Assess DEI awareness

Start by looking inwards. Does everyone in your office understand DEI? Are they aware of the business need and value of DEI? Hopefully yes, but basic education is extremely helpful to get everyone on the same page. Then, start practicing conversations that involve DEI. For some people, certain subject matters trigger statements like “I’m not an expert on that”, and so they shy away from a discussion. However, just opening up a dialogue is a great way to break folks in. As you get more comfortable with the conversations, even if you don’t have all of the answers, you will become braver with the topics. And others will, too.

Internally, at every level, we encourage and teach each other to recognize and call out exclusive behaviors. We also conduct training sessions for executives and business leaders (not just once, but often enough that it’s hard to forget), with the intention for inclusive management to be business as usual.

With diversity and inclusive measures in place and reviewed regularly – at least once a month –we can see where we have good traction and where we still need to improve.

Step 2: Don’t reinvent the wheel

Share, share and share some more. Across our 17 offices, articles, podcasts and other means of learning are shared amongst each other to inspire conversation and drive awareness and actions across the Jack network.

Step 3: Include DEI in every element of the candidate/ employee experience

DEI plays a role in every aspect of the candidate/employee experience. It starts with recruitment through the use of inclusive job descriptions, job sites and hiring practices. It continues throughout the employee journey including onboarding, career development and training opportunities.

Our global mentorship program pairs talent across the agency with leaders in diverse markets and offices to discuss career growth, share professional development tips and provide access to tools. There is also a reverse mentorship component in which learnings that happen are hugely instructional and inspirational in the DEI sphere.

Step 4: Encourage allies

A major barrier to employees valuing and engaging with DEI is feeling that certain topics don’t pertain to them, and therefore they do not see the value or the need for their participation. This lack of personal connection perpetuates the perception that DEI is “not for me”. But there is always a way to feel part of the solution – one way is to become an ally.

At Jack, we recognize that to create real change, we need to enable, encourage and empower all employees to be part of the (often) hard conversations surrounding DEI. Remembering that everyone has felt excluded at some point in their lives helps drive conversation forward. Our focus on allyship also connects and unites our broader employee population – making people feel part of a bigger community.

Step 5: Embrace the similarities and differences

Across our office locations, we learn from each other’s differences as much as we seek out similarities. It’s how we grow both personally and professionally. Though not a DEI specific program, our company’s recent participation in a corporate global challenge brought over 400 (469 to be exact) of our colleagues together in small teams, spanning the globe. Why? Mainly to track our daily steps and foster a healthy global competition, but also to bring together people from all over the world for a shared purpose.

Step 6: Promote DEI

Hundreds of articles and cases are published listing how and why clients look to work with agencies that reflect their own diversity as a company and/or the diversity of their customers. And it makes sense. Brands want to work with people who share similar values. So make it known that your agency or company is one that fosters DEI.

By threading all these practices and experiences through the employee journey, it becomes second nature to consider DEI from every angle. And by practicing uncomfortable conversations, we become more equipped to handle difficult requests. For example, if a client asks for something that doesn’t feel right, it becomes much easier to broach a conversation with them. The same goes for internal, employee-to-employee scenarios.

Step 7: Create inspiring client work

At Jack, we’re fortunate to have helped many clients develop and deliver diversity and inclusion meetings, conferences and experiences. For example, COVERGIRL is dedicated to the idea that women can succeed in whatever they do. And as the “Official Beauty Sponsor of the NFL” we saw a unique opportunity for COVERGIRL to change the game. It was time to take women and their opinions off of the sidelines and prove they can talk football just as well as men. And with that, Rantin’ & Raven – the first-ever all-female football pregame show was born — real women fans behind the sports desk discussing the sport they love.

Some of these award-winning cases are great examples for others to be inspired to do something extraordinary within their own DEI practice.