Right from the off, Headland was built around a single principle: bring a wide range of perspectives to the advice, strategies and delivery we offer our clients. Not just the many skills and disciplines we deploy and combine, but the backgrounds, hinterlands and unique perspectives of each of our people.
Ethnicity is a significant part of this, and I’ll be the first to acknowledge we’ve got a huge amount of work still to do. To be awarded Ally status by The Blueprint judges is an important step in our journey. And one I’m proud that Headland has achieved.
I’m aware of the irony, because I’m very much part of the existing problem. Too many people at the top of businesses look like me. It’s an uncomfortable truth that I’m one of the beneficiaries of the existing structural and societal systems which favour white, mostly middle-class men. On paper, my background isn’t the typical one for a CEO of a large reputation and comms firm – lower-middle-class, anxiety prone, degree-less and not from a practitioner background. Quite the package! Despite this, the colour of my skin and my gender have no doubt played to my advantage and massively stacked the deck in my favour.
If we accept our starting point is a deeply problematic one, and also that we all – especially those leading organisations – have a responsibility to take positive action, then allyship should be an effective and powerful force for change.
Ultimately, it’s not just because it’s the right thing to do, which is a given. But because delivering the best work demands it. Our client work is always strongest when perspectives combine to build robust answers.
I’m personally looking forward to working in partnership with The Blueprint. On reviewing our application, the judges’ view was that we’re still early on in our journey, but that we’ve done some good work to date. They called out our apprenticeship programme for removing barriers to entering the industry, our Diversity and Inclusion training for senior leaders, our commitment to tracking our own employee data, and various initiatives we’ve run to build an inclusive culture.
The result of our application is that we now have a two year action plan as we work towards achieving the full diversity mark, covering recruitment, nurturing talent, data, culture and external communications. We’re also required to write to each of our clients and suppliers to let them know about being awarded Ally status, to ensure our key stakeholders are informed and know what to expect from us.
I’m proud we’ve achieved Ally status. Working towards achieving the full diversity mark is a move towards becoming a stronger and ultimately better business and, crucially, towards developing the role models at all levels in the business necessary for meaningful change.
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