Omnicom Media Group UK: We Want To Work With BYP to Develop A Relationship With Our Black And Multicultural Communities
Jan 26, 2021
How did you get into a D&I advisory role?
Prior to working in D&I, I used to go to events out of interest and noticed that very few D&I professionals were Black men. Realising that the D&I sector itself needed to be more diverse. I decided that I would go into D&I and added all the D&I people I could find on LinkedIn and analysed their profiles. From more community facing roles I had done previously I could see I had transferable skills. In addition, I recognised the value my lived experience in having to recognise, understand and navigating barriers as a Black man could bring to a D&I role. Initially I couldn’t get past the recruitment portals, but doors have never opened automatically for me, so I’m used to having to find a way around barriers. I used LinkedIn again to find a recruitment consultant to secure me an interview at Norton Rose Fulbright a global law firm. Admittedly having never worked in a corporate environment I was unsure as to whether they would see me as a cultural fit. However, in my interview I was able to articulate the value of my difference at my two interviews, whilst also demonstrating transferable skills alongside experience and understanding of addressing social exclusion.
Why is working as a D&I specialist so important to you?
I remember growing up feeling like an outsider for various reasons and so I empathise with outsiders, and I also recognise the value of being outside the inner circle and having a different perspective. Working in D&I helps me create opportunities for other people who feel like outsiders so that we don’t lose people with the talent just because our discomfort with difference. The people who are considered “different” are the very people with outside perspectives we will need to come up with innovative solutions to the complex challenges we. Also, I know inclusion challenges around race, gender, LGBTQ+ disability etc go back centuries and so even though it’s not a race any one person can win in their own lifetime I at least want to give those who I’ll pass the baton to a decent head start.
Of the work you’ve done to date, what are you most proud of?
Setting up the social mobility whilst at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. We had social mobility programmes externally but not an internal network and so I lobbied people at all levels of the organisation to get involved and share their social mobility stories. I also spoke candidly about race and wrote articles encouraging a wider conversation. It was challenging at first especially in getting race higher on the Inclusion agenda because often people who are different often don’t want to highlight it too much because it may be seen as controversial. But by being open about my own experiences with class and race and the value that these experiences bring, others were then encouraged to push the agenda forwards on inclusion around race and class.
Who are your role models and why?
The Lawrence family were inspirational for me they really moved the bar for all of us after the tragic murder of their son. They fought so hard, didn’t give in and changed race relations in our country and the way we started to understand racism at an institutional level. On a more personal level I would say my Dad is a role model, he always pushed me to know about history of Africa and people of African descent. He also encouraged me to read and so I was able to better understand the history behind the issues and conflicts that I would see playout in my community and in the media.
What attracted you to come and join us at OMG, UK?
I had been trying to understand why some people are valued less than others and I concluded that it’s down to the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. Omnicom as a global media and advertising company can influence the narrative of who we value and how we see everyone. So, I reasoned that if I could help diversify who comes in then the messages and content that go out will more inclusive of everyone, then we can all see our value reflected.
What do you hope to gain from partnering with BYP?
Ultimately what we want to achieve from engagement with partners like BYP is to establish a pipeline that enables us to better attract, recruit and progress a greater volume of Black talent. We have specific targets for the next three years to increase the representation, retention and progression of Black and multicultural colleagues across all agencies at all levels of the Omnicom Media Group. We hope BYP will play a role in ensuring we have enough Black candidates to select from for any role we have advertised. Of course, we will be doing the work internally empowering colleagues to understand the value of difference within their teams and proactively address and remove all forms of exclusion. However, externally, we also want to work with BYP to develop a relationship with our Black and multicultural communities through recognition of our brand as an inclusive employer and increasing proximity through networking opportunities and other media forms.