GroupM agency Wavemaker has launched a new DEI program recruiting so-called “Inclusion Champions” to be placed within its U.S. client and practice teams. (DEI stands for diversity, equity and inclusion. It’s a voluntary program.)
The program was launched after internal discussions and a first-ever employee survey on the issue of inclusion.
The agency concluded it needed greater awareness of, and participation in, agency initiatives designed to improve its culture, including DEI efforts.
“We had a lot of support programs in place to help people learn how to be inclusive,” Kristen Metzger, Wavemaker’s chief people officer, U.S., explains. “But in a fast-paced, client-centric world, it can be hard to break through.”
Also, the agency wanted more people to “consistently demonstrate increased allyship in our day-to-day team interactions and ways of working,” added Metzger.
The “Inclusion Champions” program was specifically designed to address these two issues. There are now more than 36 ICs dispersed throughout Wavemakers U.S. operation.
The ICs are ambassadors for all things DEI. In partnership with their client or practice lead, the ICs help raise awareness of DEI events and encourage participation. They have the flexibility to customize their approach, based on individual team cultures, but a primary role is to ensure that DEI topics stay top of mind, explained Ildi Conrad, Wavemaker’s director of learning, engagement & inclusion.
“On the flip side, they share any feedback and potential barriers to participation with our [HR] team and work collaboratively to make it as easy as possible for people to participate."
ICs are also expected to be role models who inspire others to engage and act inclusively through their own positive actions.
“We look to them to help ensure that the day-to-day culture on their team is open, respectful and inclusive and when needed, to demonstrate what allyship looks like in the moment,” says the agency spokesperson. “Some of the ways they do this is by contributing to our DEI communications as guest editors, ensuring that DEI topics are on the agenda of team status meetings, and helping people remember to use inclusive language.”
The ICs are meant to ensure a greater focus on the smaller, subtle things that can happen in casual day-to-day interactions.
One recent example led to the development of an Inclusive Language guide. “One of our Champions reached out to ask if there was any official documentation he could point to as a way to encourage his team to stop using the terms “whitelist” and “blacklist.”
There wasn’t -- but the new guide stemmed directly from such input. It will out within the next couple of weeks.