Elaine Bremner: Benefitting from an inclusive culture

When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace, a lot needs to be done to ensure all employees, regardless of their background and identity, feel safe and empowered to bring their true selves to work. CIPHR’s Workplace discrimination report, published in September 2021, found that a third (32%) of people have been discriminated against in their workplace. At MediaCom, our vision is to be the most inclusive agency and while ensuring we have an inclusive benefits programme is important, the key for us is fostering a culture of empathy, creativity and diversity of thought at every level to drive meaningful change for our clients, our people, the industry and society at large. Ultimately, businesses will change nothing if they fail to challenge themselves to address some of the inequities that exist in their current processes.

At MediaCom we want to be the leading voice in the evolution of the industry, and we have a mindset of embracing discomfort and sharing. We won’t undertake gimmicks and challenge ourselves to take action to create sustainable change. With regards to benefits specifically, in consultation with our Faith Employee Resource Groups we have introduced a flexible public holiday policy. We’re proud to have such a diverse group of people at MediaCom and believe it’s important to respect every person’s culture, belief and identity, and to encourage each other to celebrate days that are personally significant to us all. Employees have the opportunity to swap one or all of their eight bank holiday entitlement for another day that is important to them.

We have a number of other benefits in place including our employee assistance programme and a total employee wellbeing platform, providing support and on topics such as family, health and money. We offer Bupa to all employees allowing them to access counselling and have recently introduced a mental health platform called Unmind. This offers tools and programmes to assess employee mental health and to help with feelings such as loneliness, anxiety, stress, and sleep. What’s more, we also give employees a day off in support of Mental Health Awareness Day. Finally, as a response to the pandemic and the fact that one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, we have offered each employee the opportunity to invite a loved one to also access the Unmind platform.

It’s important to realise that no organisation can empower its staff if they fail to have an inclusive culture. Yes, we can have inclusive benefits that talk to different people, different faiths, ethnicities, sexual orientations and genders, but that stretches way beyond benefits. For us, it is about ensuring allyship sits at the heart of MediaCom. To achieve this we are educating 250 of our most senior leaders. Fearless Futures is an intense four-day training programme designed to understand oppression and privilege and how those narratives show up in the workplace. It’s about being true allies and our leaders collectively holding each other to account.

We’re excited about the journey ahead to truly understand the disparity between groups and develop plans so that we can ensure every single employee feels like they belong.

Elaine Bremner is chief people officer at MediaCom UK