Wunderman push tackles ‘pale, male and stale’ culture

pip1Wunderman Thompson UK is stepping up its battle against the “pale, male and stale” culture that many claim is endemic in the marketing industry, with a new diversity initiative which will see the agency review culture, policies and infrastructure to best support the needs of LGBTQ+ staff.

The strategy, unveiled internally this week, kicks off with a partnership with LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, which will complete an audit of the agency’s workplace practices to identify where Wunderman Thompson UK can build on its current provision.

Although Stonewall’s audit recommendations are not binding, Wunderman Thompson has signalled its commitment to listen and learn by implementing six agency-wide pledges covering culture and employee satisfaction.

These include the internal policy review; ensuring the agency has an inclusive environment for everyone so they feel valued and comfortable to be themselves; and a promise to provide diverse and inclusive learning opportunities for everyone.

The agency will also conduct an employee survey, managed, confidentially, by Stonewall; it will complete Stonewall’s Workplace Index; and, finally, it will support the creation of a new Wunderman Thompson network group, open to LGBTQ+ employees and “allies”.

Ultimately, Wunderman Thompson wants to the first British agency on the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list.

Chief executive Pip Hulbert said that although the agency already considers itself to be inclusive, it is important to “step back and be entirely objective”.

She added: “Like any business, we know can always do better. LGBTQ+ issues shouldn’t be something you pay lip service to once a year around Pride Month. We want to ensure each and every one of our employees feels valued and included every day, and regardless of their background, gender or sexuality.

“This isn’t a box-ticking exercise for us and it’s much more than putting a logo on our website. We want to embed Stonewall’s recommendations into every aspect of the agency. The new LGBTQ+ network group will play a key role in helping us to build an open and accepting working environment for everyone.”

Stonewall client account director Molly Byrne added: “We know people perform better at work when they can be themselves and that diverse teams lead to more creative and productive environments. The advertising sector is gathering steam with its LGBT inclusive work and we are thrilled that Wunderman Thompson is making it a priority.”

Whether the initiative will go down well with everyone at the agency is another matter, however. Late last year, a group of “straight, white, middle-aged men” claimed they were ousted by JWT – before it was merged with Wunderman – as part of a diversity drive.

They allege they got the boot after raising concerns about the comments of creative director Jo Wallace, who said that she wanted to “obliterate” the reputation that the agency was full of white, privileged straight men. The men involved are reportedly taking the WPP agency to an employment tribunal.

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