Gender equality and nurturing female leadership and talent forms a core part of who Mutant Communications is as an agency. According to the agency, this focus starts from the top and trickles down throughout the business.
Knowing the importance of female leadership and gender diversity, Mutant wanted to change the common perceptions of female leaders in the PR industry. Its efforts impressed the judges at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s inaugural Adland Diversity & Inclusion Index given the monumental steps it took to help employees balance their work and life and offer flexibility to female employees to pursue goals in their careers while balancing and nurturing for their families.
Mutant believes that across all levels, the PR industry has a shortage of talents because right from an impressionable stage of internships, many young talents were exploited by agencies rather than nurtured. Meanwhile, it also felt that mothers, in particular, were forced to leave the industry due to inflexible and long work hours. The agency also saw that increasingly women in leadership positions, particularly in Singapore, slipped, and communications professionals came to believe that the “grind of agency life” was the norm, leaving little to no time to raise a young family or pursue any passions outside of work.
Therefore, the agency made it its noble mission to challenge and change this perception of the industry. It wanted to show that employees can produce award-winning works in a diverse and inclusive agency where talents were not worked to the bone and expected to log unsustainable hours at their desks.
Nearing its 10th anniversary, Mutant today stands proud of its core values of being genuine, inclusive, responsible and bold. It is laser-focused on its mission to remove structural barriers to diversity and inclusion. Gender equality and nurturing female leadership and talents are crucial to the agency, with 66% of its leadership team being female employees. Meanwhile, 82% of the entire agency across offices in Singapore and Malaysia were women - in all types of roles and across all levels.
To help mothers pursue their careers and look after their babies at the same time, Mutant rolled out the Gradual Return Policy, allowing new mothers to proceed with a gradual return to work, beyond the government-mandated maternity leave period.
This policy allowed a new mother to take a maternity leave of up to four months, and then returned slowly over another four months. Initially, the agency welcomed new mothers back for just 10 hours a week in the first month without any salary deduction. Then, the working hours will slowly increase each month to 20 hours, 30 hours, and then 40 hours or above. This approach allowed and encouraged new mothers to remain in the workforce, letting them know that their job was safe. They can also spend time on their growing family and contributing to clients.
When it came to flexibility, Mutant allowed employees to work from home even before the pandemic, so they can better handle family issues or pursue personal goals.
At the same time, it also mentors young executives both with regards to career growth at Mutant but also on aspects of life outside the office through its Mutant Mentorship Programme. One example is Heather Seet, who has built her passion with “Girl, Talk” – a social media first initiative that champions female empowerment and helps women respond to and tackle sexual harassment.
Aside from supporting women returning to the industry and mentoring young talent, Mutant also focuses on the LGBTQ+ community, which it said is of extreme importance to the agency. Any employee who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community is fully embraced within the agency and the agency makes no qualms about turning away potential clients who don’t align with its core values. And yes, the agency attests, that this has happened on more than one occasion. To further show support for the LGBTQ+ community, it also hosted Singapore’s first Queer Media Mixer as part of the nation’s annual Pink Dot event.
Mutant’s hard work to help employees has clearly paid off. With a team of 30 employees, its retention rate stood strong at 85%. In an independent employee satisfaction survey conducted in August 2020, the staff satisfaction rate stood at 86%, while 92% admired the leadership team led by 66% of female directors. It also has a client retention rate of 80% counting brands such as Disney, Facebook, Subway, and Zendesk, among others.
To read the rest of the agency initiatives in the Adland Diversity & Inclusion Index 2021, click here.