VaynerMedia impressed our judges with its focus on ensuring diversity right at the foundation of its agency – the hiring process. Empathy, diversity and inclusion are building blocks for the team at VaynerMedia. Today, the agency has built a collaborative and empathy led culture across its operations globally.
VaynerMedia first made its mark in Asia Pacific with the opening of its office in Singapore in July 2019. Today it has over 150 people spread over Singapore, Bangkok, Sydney and Tokyo, along with presence in Manila, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Delhi and Mumbai. Over 60% of its team members identify as female, and have a 50% representation in the leadership. It now boasts over 20 nationalities and many diverse backgrounds working together every day.
So how did it build up such a diverse team? According to VaynerMedia when looking to hire, the agency looks for talent from out of the norm backgrounds – not just in the brackets of gender, ethnicity or sexual preference but rather the walks of life and experiences. In its first two years, it zoomed in on building a different kind of agency, based on diversity of ideas and empathy – and not necessarily with staff with experience from the advertising world. The agency said:
At VaynerMedia APAC, our journey has just begun and our goal is to be among the most diverse, inclusive and attractive employers in the region.
According to the agency, its CEO the famous business influencer, Gary Vaynerchuk, describes empathy as one of the biggest attributes to his business success. As such, D&I is not a single initiative for the agency, but is built within its DNA.
So what’s its approach? Well the first step is to cast the widest net possible with diversity in mind. It uses a bespoke structured interview process, customised with diversity in mind, which removes biases through the hiring process. As part of its assessment, it proactively looks for candidates with out-of-the-norm backgrounds, and often partners with recruiters that have a diverse network of talent. It also attends D&I career fairs to reach out to inclusive professional networks rather than follow the well trodden paths taken by other ad agencies. In addition, it also conducts interview training for all hiring managers that include awareness and understanding of unconscious bias.
Tapping on to its global parent company resources at VaynerX, part of VaynerMedia, the agency has created task forces, which are open for anyone within the company to join and contribute to. Globally, it has several employee resource groups, or “community resource groups” (CGR) focused on fostering community within the agency. All of these CRGs are created with a bottom-up, community-driven approach and are autonomously run by their self-designated leads, who manage the groups’ budgets and lead events planning.
These task forces focus on:
-Recruitment - this includes building relationships with diverse schools and organisations.
-Education/L&D - creating multicultural marketing COE and an online resource hub.
-VaynerX Speaker Series to imbue passion
-Retention and mentorship programmes
-Mental Health and Wellness
-Donations and Volunteering
Understanding that many biases come from everyday conversation, it has also pronouns in internal systems and communication, and has piloted a dedicated program to monitor pay equality.
In APAC, the agency has initiated numerous discussions with employees around multiculturalism, mental health and LGBTQIA+ to break down barriers and bring their whole selves, or whatever part of themselves they want, to work each day, said the agency.
“We believe diverse workplaces attract the right talent and create better work. Together, we are constantly learning and improving as D&I is a journey, not a destination,” it said.