True Diversity feat. Halpern and The&Partnership

We caught up with Rachel Bowen, Division Director at Halpern and The&Partnership.

The purpose of our initiative and series “True Diversity” is to feature, collate and showcase the breadth of brands, companies and initiatives that are all on a mission to work towards True Diversity and Inclusion.

Tony @ ADLIB: Let’s start with the need for Diversity and Inclusion, what’s your take – why is it so important?

Rachel: At the most basic level, I believe we all need to be aware of the inequities in this world and be conscious of our own bias in contributing to maintaining the status quo, which in its current state is unjust and needs to change.

Specific to the world of communications, as we produce outward facing content across multiple channels for our brands, if diverse voices aren’t included (and actually listened to) from the very first brainstorm/meeting and ongoing, we aren’t accurately representing the world we all live in. That contributes to people not being able to see themselves or experiences they can relate to in marketing, which can alienate an important customer base.

Tony @ ADLIB: Can you share your processes – how do you address team Diversity specifically?

Rachel: A lot of companies I’ve seen think you just need to get diverse people in the door, then the problem is ‘solved’. But it needs to remain an active conversation you are always engaged with, which we strive to keep doing once we’ve hired – what is that person’s experience in the working environment and how can we do a better job of ensuring they feel included and their point of view is welcomed? How can we make the day to day more considerate and inclusive, so they feel safe? Are we remaining open to their perspectives and contributions even if they are different (or potentially challenging) to our own?

A lot of this work can be forgotten, or just not done at all. That’s understandable because it can be hard, however then companies experience high churn of diverse talent, without necessarily recognising it as such. A real missed opportunity!

Tony @ ADLIB: From a business perspective, what do you consider potential consequences of a lack of Diversity and Inclusion?

Rachel: I am part of WPP Unite, a committee of brilliant LGBTQ+ people from across the WPP network, a number of whom recently published ‘Beyond The Rainbow’, a world-first report about LGBTQ+ audiences. One fact that really stuck out to me from that report was that ‘47% of Gen Z don’t identify as heterosexual or cisgender’ – so if you’re wanting to speak to a young audience, you’re speaking to a queer audience. The same logic applies across other diverse groups – neurodiversity is becoming more readily recognised and diagnosed, there are multiple reports projecting that the US will be majority mixed race by 2050. The future is diverse in myriad ways and so authentically connecting with those future consumers has never been more important.  

Tony @ ADLIB: What do you see as the main benefits of an inclusive workforce?

Rachel: Better work that delivers better results for clients, meaning they become more profitable. Yes, there’s all the ‘soft’ benefits of broadening perspectives, ongoing learning, connecting with those outside of your own bubble, but I think we need to stop considering DE&I in those terms as it makes it too easy to dismiss as ‘additional’. There is direct financial benefit to having a diverse, inclusive workforce, which actually makes it essential.

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Head of Marketing, Digital & eCommerce

Agency & In-house Marketing

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Tony Allen