Three ways to drive diversity from Microsoft, FA and MediaCom

From building alliances to training men to being emotionally intelligent in business, executives from Microsoft, MediaCom and the Football Association (FA) shared tips at Advertising Week Europe for driving diversity in the workplace:

Set targets, not quotas

Introducing diversity quotas in business for women and ethnic minorities has been a much debated subject. While many industry leaders and MPs are in favour of introducing quotas, just as many feel they would be detrimental to business.

So could bringing in targets be the answer? According to Karen Blackett, chief executive of MediaCom, the answer is yes. Speaking today on a panel at Advertising Week Europe Blackett said that the industry should look to the Rooney Rule that was introduced by the National Football League in the US.

Under the rule NFL clubs are required to interview a minimum of one black or ethnic minority candidate for head coach and senior football vacancies.

“There is education that has to be done with head hunters to make sure that you’re getting the right candidates through to be interviewed but also a responsibility for the leaders in the organisation to make sure that you’re at least seeing some representation and then you’re not forcing somebody on a chair but you’re having a chair there for somebody to take it,” she said.

Build alliances

“A revolution doesn’t happen by the acts of one person,” according to non-executive director at the FA Heather Rabbatts who encouraged women to build alliances in order to get ahead.

“Talking about the point of how you model culture, particularly if you are the only woman then what is important is how you build alliances that put in those changes, so whether it’s about bringing in targets to bring in black and ethnic minorities or bringing in diversity to the workplace.”

Train men to have ‘emotional intelligence’

Emotional intelligence is “key” to driving forward diversity, according to Blackett, a quality she said she was lucky enough to experience from male employees at MediaCom. “There were men that as well as being incredibly smart and intelligent had emotional intelligence,” she said.

“I think that is absolutely key in allowing more ethnic diversity and gender to come through. They also had a desire to win and just wanted the best talent to come through but that emotional intelligence is absolutely key.”

While not training leaders to be emotionally intelligent Microsoft is currently rolling out a training programme through senior management called unbiased conscience, which Andy Hart, vice president of advertising and online explained. “It’s really about awareness and there’s no right or wrong answer,” he said.

“We all have unconscious bias we all have conscious bias. But actually creating an environment where you’re prepared to talk about this in a room actually makes that team more cohesive, more courageous and more honest which can lead to better results.”

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