An open letter on Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
Written by Elisabeth Field
Eulogy has, for a long time, been a place of diverse personalities, experiences, and opinions. Over our 24 years, we have welcomed what we felt was a broad range of people through our doors. But it was by luck, rather than design. That luck meant we had a gender diverse, intellectually progressive, and culturally liberal gang.
We supported LGBT+ rights and we hired people from different ethnic backgrounds and nationalities. So we had diversity nailed, right?
We didn’t do enough. Like other companies, we continued to recruit mainly in our own image. One that, it turned out, was predominantly white, middle class, and university educated.
So, not very diverse at all.
Then 2020 shone a light on the underlying horrors that had taken place over generations. We watched as police brutality in the US took centre stage again. Those events resonated in the UK, and what had been bubbling as an issue for many years was blown into real front page perspective by the inferno of last summer’s Black Lives Matters protests. From that erupted familiar questions and concerns around equality, diversity, representation, and social mobility.
As we at Eulogy attempted to shepherd our gang through a global pandemic, with a business strategy that sought to ride the wave of a downturn and anticipated crest of an upturn, we realised that the challenges the Black Lives Matter movement sought to address were not someone else’s problem. Diversity – in all its forms – was a part of the equality agenda we felt we supported yet hadn’t consistently come out to bat for. We needed to change that. We wanted Eulogy to be reflective of the society in which we operated, not the social circles in which we gathered.
What did we do to address diversity and inclusion?
Well, firstly, let’s talk about what we didn’t do.
We didn’t sign up to the latest industry initiatives. There were many. And all with good intentions. But I was adamant we didn’t sign up to a charter and badge ourselves as supporting the diversity agenda, without putting in the hard yards to ensure we had the right to say so.
We didn’t post about or promote our collective support for all things #BLM – not because we didn’t support that movement (and others); but because how hypocritical would it be to do that, all the while knowing we were a long way from having our own house in order?
Instead, we kept away from the bandwagon and focused keenly on what we do, how we do it, and why.
Here’s what we did do.
A self-selected working group from all levels within our agency began a root and branch review. From what we understood about diversity and inclusion (turns out we knew buzzwords but not enough beyond that), to our recruitment strategy, our learning and development programme, and our performance and appraisal system.
We also wanted to set ourselves up for success, not failure by omission. That meant ensuring we were searching in diverse places for our diverse gang; that we helped people see that our agency is made up of many different types and backgrounds, and therefore there really is a home for everyone. And even if you’re unique in our gang (isn’t everyone?), then that’s a position we want to celebrate and support, not ignore or become squeamish about.
And – crucially – we didn’t just focus internally. We have developed a code of conduct for all our suppliers. We’ve changed our terms and conditions for our client contracts to ensure we are clear on our expectations from everyone we work with, across the board and regardless of size and scope of business.
Our D&I positioning has been inspired by a client. They call it diversity, inclusion and belonging, and that felt more like Eulogy. That last word – belonging – is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? We want to create an environment where all people from all backgrounds and beliefs feel psychologically safe, culturally respected and intellectually supported.
And it’s about more than respect and equality. There are financial reasons to embrace a more diverse workforce. A recent Gartner study claimed that through 2022, 75% of organisations with a diverse and inclusive culture will exceed their financial targets. And McKinsey stated that the most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability. So, to those who question whether this ‘whole diversity thing’ is just a marketing gimmick, think again.
This process has taken time. We knew this year would be one of significant growth for us, and with growth comes change. That change has lit a fire under our DIB strategy, and we hit January 2021 with a renewed vigor just as the British economy and our industry sprang back to life.
Our growth has meant change for what we measure, too. Our DIB strategy is paying off, and we’re witnessing a sea of change across all our key metrics.
Creating lasting change within our agency
It hasn’t been easy, and there have been many moments where I’ve hung my self-regarded liberal head in shame. But, we’ve learnt a great deal along the way. Such as how we can take so much for granted; how when we think we understand someone’s struggles, we probably don’t. How diversity includes cognitive diversity as much as age, race, sexuality, and gender.
And, perhaps the most important learning of all, is that we are all learning.
We’re a long way from perfect. We have much still to understand and systems and processes to change. But now, our agency feels better equipped to make that happen. We’ve been able to do all this because of the collective energy within our gang to make tomorrow better.
Our latest addition to our brand values is perhaps keenly felt this month. We are proud. I have watched our business walk through the fire of the last 18 months – and if ever there was a phoenix moment, it is now. As we emerge with (somewhat alarming) speed into a new, vibrant, and growing economy, it is to our gang that I shout my heartfelt thanks. Our loyal, ambitious, brave, and honest gang, of which I am proud to say I belong. May we continue to hold a mirror to ourselves before we cast the spotlight on others. And may we continue to be brave, to call it like we see it, and to endeavor to surround our clients with a difference that will make the difference.