Adland Diversity & Inclusion Index 2021: MediaCom

MediaCom's "People, First Better Results" approach is not just a talent tagline but is also a fundamental business philosophy that guides everything the agency does. Its focus on gender diversity has struck a chord with our judging panel. Currently, it employs 65% women across 15 countries.

As COVID-19 continues to take its toll on all industries, MediaCom decided to go against the flow of investment cuts and retrenchment. Instead, the agency seized the opportunity to invest in its most valuable asset - the people. MediaCom’s view is straightforward - to provide opportunities for employees to thrive.

In its push to ensure gender diversity, MediaCom realised that only 29% of leaders across all industries in Asia Pacific are female. As such, it decided to focus on three aspects: re-thinking recruiting, bridging the difference and removing bias, and helping women break the glass ceiling.

Instead of looking for skills and minimum years of experience in the same businesses, MediaCom uses comparable accomplishments to measure fit and predict candidates’ success on the job regardless of their professional background. One issue it faced, however, was in how it could open up career opportunities to a broader pool of talent who are from diverse backgrounds and industries, including the 58% of female expats that work at MediaCom. To solve this, it developed a new pathway for women in the team by focusing on long-term growth and job satisfaction, instead of maximising short-term compensation.

In the APAC region, where attitudes towards gender equality are not even across the countries, MediaCom knew the importance of building cultural awareness.

By understanding cultural contexts of different thinking, the teams are able to interact with gender diverse teammates, resulting in a more effective workflow. Looking at this issue from the client’s point of view, MediaCom also saw merits in celebrating its employees as it allowed a diverse array of thought, ideas and experience that could be applied to the creative works.

However, being diverse can also pose challenges, especially in ensuring that every employee across the region agrees on the agency’s view. MediaCom’s solution for this was to identify a learning platform that provides interactive and personalised training to enhance their cultural competence and global mindset.

Meanwhile, MediaCom also noted that the lack of gender diversity in the industry often manifests in senior and especially C-level positions. This poses a glass ceiling. To change this directive, the company developed a three-stage programme titled “Fast Forward”, “Women in Leadership” and “Walk the Talk” that pulled in support from WPP and other leaders such as Facebook to provide a sustainable solution with credibility. The programme is helmed by APAC chief people officer Sonia Fernandes with the support of local leaders.

“Fast Forward” helps female leaders reaching mid-career progression to accomplish more of what is important to them, improve relationships and create more peace and resilience. The programme delegates focus on what the leaders can control in the months ahead while navigating uncertainty and change.

High potential talents are then placed within the “Women in Leadership” learning programme across WPP. The agenda is highly experiential with interactive exercises, self-reflection, sharing and practice. The programme addresses the issues, blockers and challenges female leaders face while building their careers. With the help of the coaches across MediaCom, participants work to assess their value and strengths, shape their brands, strengthen their resilience, and enhance their communication, impact and influence.

As female leaders progress through their careers, the final step “Walk the Talk” helps those in senior roles break the glass ceiling. Designed to maximise individual potential and deliver personal impact, participants focus on goals and value alignments. Participants are challenged and coached to build a bigger vision and plan that gives renewed energy and focus to their professional and personal lives.

According to MediaCom, the programme's success is evident in its numbers. Today, 60% of its leadership pipeline is women, and female leaders are responsible for 75% of its profit and loss. Women representation in MediaCom APAC is 65% of total staff and 55% of the leadership teams across the APAC markets. This change has also impacted clients, resulting in the highest client satisfaction scores MediaCom has ever seen for six years. It also retained 66% of women who thought about resigning and 50% of the programme's participants got promoted.

To read the rest of the agency initiatives in the Adland Diversity & Inclusion Index 2021, click here.