Why The Unmistakables represents a ‘first principles’ approach to diversity and inclusion

The Unmistakables won ‘Best in Diversity & Inclusivity in an organisation’ at The Drum Social Purpose Awards 2019. Here, the agency reveals the background to winning this award.

The challenge

We’ve all been in brainstorms addressing how to make brands more diverse or organisations more inclusive. The talk is easy but, unfortunately, the action is all too rare.

As a professional working in the marketing and communications industry, Asad Dhunna realised that a major part of the problem was the workforce status quo. Its lack of diversity continues to see it majority white, male, straight and middle class. He had an idea. What if he created a consultancy of minorities, made of people who knew what it was like to be different? What if he could find others who, like him, consider marketing not just a career, but an opportunity to drive real societal change?

What if he could attract the types of people who often leave the industry because it can’t seem to cater for anything but the mainstream?

The strategy

As a gay Muslim man, Asad knew what it felt like to feel different, working in an industry that would enthusiastically talk the talk, but usually fail to walk the walk. He wanted to nurture an environment where clients could learn and people could thrive. And so, following a round of seed investment, The Unmistakables was born in September 2018.

The mission is simple: to help organisations become more representative of society from the inside out. Rather than treating diversity as a box-ticking exercise, this cultural consultancy focuses on getting to the root of the issue and working with organisation leaders to transform how they operate. Its uniqueness comes in its unrelenting ambition to use the power of marketing and communications to go deeper within organisations in order to drive meaningful change. Its work comes from CEOs, learning development directors, and marketing and communications leaders.

The action

This approach led to significant growth in year one, with clients including Unilever, the England Cricket Board, Barnardo’s and Openreach. The work the consultancy does has been described as transformative, and it is slowly carving out a niche to help brands and organisations that want to walk the walk, rather than talk the talk when it comes to diversity & inclusion.

The initiatives The Unmistakables undertakes, from its morning ‘Minoritease’ news updates, to its thought leading ‘Stereotypes Report’ also lead the way on pushing for a better understanding of minority groups, and are having a world-changing impact on the industry by making people think differently.

The results

In less than 12 months since launching, The Unmistakables has grown from a kitchen table to an office of six people, all different in their own way. The agency has worked with household brands including the England Cricket Board, Barnardo’s, Openreach and Unilever.

It has also worked with start-ups from diverse backgrounds, helping the likes of LGBT+ app Squad Social, Proud Beer and Yogarise in articulating their proposition and messaging. Asad has also been invited to speak around the world – spreading The Unmistakables message at the IDEA Summit in Toronto, at Media360 in Brighton, at Ad:Tech in London, and most recently at the International Festival of Creativity in Cannes. Its presence has extended beyond speaking engagements, with media coverage about The Unmistakables appearing on Euronews, BBC News, Holmes Report, and multiple times in The Drum.

“We decided to go with The Unmistakables because their mission statement to create an agency which reflects the world in all its varied forms means, by its nature, they re-think things from first principles. This fully reflects the way that we work, avoiding assumptions and carefully considering what might be the best approach for a given project or situation. It’s a pleasure to work together.” - Simon Thorpe of Market Peckham

The Unmistakables was a winner at The Drum Social Purpose Awards 2019. Click here to register you interest in next year’s awards.

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