MEC calls on industry to prioritise inclusion and embrace difference
MEC has launched an industry-wide initiative to celebrate difference and raise more visibility of inclusion as a critical business imperative. ‘Brave Your Bias’, which had its debut at New York’s Advertising Week yesterday, September 26, 2016, implores people to uncover inherent personal biases and understand how to counteract against them.
Speaking on the motivation behind this initiative, Marie-Claire Barker, Chief Talent Officer, MEC Global, said, “Embracing difference is central to our mission of creating a more open and collaborative culture both at MEC and within our industry. We are looking to focus on all the differences people bring that makes them unique, and move the conversation beyond only race and gender.We all have bias, whether it be conscious or not, and we want to help people see how unconsciously, they may be filtering out exceptional people by focusing on those who are more like them and therefore bring them comfort. We want to encourage people to be brave enough to acknowledge this and pledge to make a change.”
The agency will host the ‘Brave Your Bias’ challenge outside of Time Center Hall, the main hub for Advertising Week, and invite delegates and attendees to take the Harvard Implicit Association Test (IAT), a proven product in investigating implicit social cognition and uncovering personal bias. Individuals will be asked to showcase their commitment by signing a pledge to explore the impact unconscious biases have on their decision making and behaviour. Expert counselors skilled on inclusion will be on-site to provide participants with tangible advice on countering bias and deliver resources to help advance the industry’s efforts.
The Brave Your Bias launch also includes a challenge to MEC’s 800+ employees in North America to bring unconscious bias to the surface by taking at least one category of the IAT test – with a goal of 100 per cent completion by September 30.
MEC’s North America CEO, Marla Kaplowitz, added, “As the make-up of our workforce evolves, how we engage and embrace difference – whether age, race, gender, disability, sexuality, accent, social status – becomes the driver that will lead our agency and industry into the future. In North America, we’ve made great strides in building a diverse community of talent representing various backgrounds and perspectives. But there is always room for growth. With our launch at Advertising Week, we are committed to leading the charge on the power of inclusion and engaging a broad audience in support of these efforts.”
The Advertising Week event signals the launch of a global movement at MEC, and builds on existing talent initiatives designed to ensure the agency is providing inclusive thinking to its clients to drive innovation and growth. The effort first rolls out in North America with the Brave Your Bias challenge to spark awareness and conversation around this potentially uncomfortable topic. On an on-going basis, the agency will embed the topic into a variety of initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of bias and helping everyone to align their behaviour to their positive intent. This includes continued focus on leadership development, empathy and relationship building as well as events to give its talent access to the best minds focused on inclusion and unconscious bias. Additionally, the agency is preparing for the global launch of a new feedback process and the launch of a more structured hiring process, including new recruiting tactics and formal interview training.
In support of the agency’s drive, global consultant and inclusive leadership coach, Tanya M Odom stated, “I think it is important that the advertising community like most industries increases awareness of unconscious bias. With innovation and creativity linked to inclusive environments, our diverse talent and future talent pipelines all benefit from intentionally inclusive workplaces. MEC is taking bold steps to educate internally and externally about ‘braving your biases’. I am excited about their impact at the organisational and industry-wide level.”