Diversity & Inclusion: how to drive real change

International Women’s Day may have taken place on 8th of March but the campaign, under 2020’s #EachforEqual theme, lasts all year. NDA will be following its process throughout the year and taking to our industry’s leading companies to discover exactly what they’re doing to drive diversity and inclusivity.

To launch the series we talked to Kathryn Schlieben, VP, EMEA Commercial Development and Niki Laxton, Culture Lead, EMEA at Xandr.

What are you doing this year to celebrate International Women’s Day as a company?

As a company dedicated to diversity and inclusion, International Women’s Day, and Women’s History Month, are celebrated by Xandr globally.

In London specifically, our women-focused Employee Resource Group (ERG), The Women’s Network (TWN), arranged an event with DevelopHer, a non-profit entity dedicated to the elevation of women in tech and digital industries. Centered around equality and the celebration of women’s achievements, the event was meant to gather some of technology’s most successful women to share inspirational stories from both their personal and professional lives.

Out of an abundance of caution for our employees and event attendees, the event was put on hold following reports around the spread of COVID-19 in the region. However, this event is a great example of how the advertising industry can come together to celebrate the leading women in our field.

How has this changed from previous years?

In more recent years our International Women’s Day celebrations have catered to internal audiences, focusing heavily on allyship, empowerment and mentoring in our internal community. This year we had the opportunity to work with a partner organization and welcome an external audience to join in our event.

What does Xandr do for women throughout the year?

Throughout the year, we are constantly thinking about how we can elevate the women in our organization.

As mentioned, TWN is a great resource for us to do so. With a mission to ignite personal and professional growth through networking and educational events driven by the interests of the women at Xandr, and to positively impact Xandr’s culture by feeding back its recommendations across the company, TWN regularly holds events and provides resources to support the development of women and encourage allyship throughout our organization.

How do you strive for equality in terms of hiring and recruitment?

Maintaining and retaining talent is one of our top priorities at Xandr. When it comes to recruitment, we are intentional about hiring employees of different experiences and backgrounds as we believe this brings immense value to our team and ultimately leads to the best ideas, products and services possible.

Our conscious effort throughout the recruitment process, including ensuring that our interviewer panels are diverse, have been instrumental in attracting the broadest and best possible set of talent.

 What company initiatives do you run both for women and other ‘minorities’?

As mentioned, we have an active chapter of TWN in EMEA, to provide women with the resources they need to grow in their careers

We also have mental health ambassadors in place in offices across Europe. Just this past February our London office held a series of internal events and discussion groups, including on-site health checks.

In the autumn we host our annual Inclusion Week event where we raise awareness and make resources available to our teams to encourage diversity and share perspectives.

In addition to the Inclusion Week event, we facilitate on-site youth mentoring with a diverse group of students. Over the past six months in London specifically, we’ve piloted an internal mentoring and coaching program to further build confidence and focus on the personal development of our existing colleagues at all levels.

Why is it important to Xander to ensure an inclusive workforce?

Our industry and client-base are becoming increasingly diverse. We recognize that not only reflecting but leading the diversity of our industry and the multi-cultural cities in which we operate brings broader perspectives, enhanced creativity, and a stronger community to our own culture as well as our work with clients and partners.

What else are you doing to drive equality and diversity?

Another step we’ve taken to ensure we are facilitating a culture of equality and inclusion is through our parental leave policy.

In the UK, we have seen a major increase in the number of employees taking advantage of the government’s shared parental leave policies.  As a result, parents can share the legally allowed parental leave period between them, whereas historically this only applied to the mother.

Our employees who have gone through the parental leave process have also become great resources, offering mentorship and advice to others when needed. In addition, we’ve dedicated time and resources to developing a thoughtful re-entry period for those returning from time off. This includes flexible working hours and other arrangements depending on the individual’s needs.

How can we combine the individual ambition with the collective? How are you as a company tackling this? 

Gender equality, as well as diversity and inclusion, should be considered a top priority for the industry as a whole. At Xandr, we take a sound approach, working it into all aspects of our business.

From HR initiatives to employee resource groups and company culture, our business is constantly looking to expand support in this area. Collaborating with external non-profit organizations and other like-minded groups has also been critical, and we look forward to continuing to advance our efforts.

What benefits does taking an #EachForEqual approach bring? For instance, does diversity in the workforce actually build the bottom line?

A study from Boston Consulting Group found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation. This finding is significant for tech companies, start-ups and industries where innovation is the key to growth.

So, to answer the question, diversity absolutely impacts a company’s bottom line. As we continue to build and accelerate our business in 2020, maintaining an employee-base of diverse experiences and backgrounds will continue to be a priority.

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