By Renuka Drummond, Chief Legal Officer, MediaKind
Diversity & inclusion (D&I) initiatives have become a spotlight for brands of all sizes in all markets, looking to offer equal opportunities and introduce fresh ideas. As Jennifer Yohe, MediaKind’s EVP Business Affairs, recently commented, industries such as ours that were once notoriously monolithic to change have made considerable progress in their recruitment approach and internal culture. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to D&I, and understanding how to embrace it in the most impactful way can be challenging.
Any organization can ask their employees to sit through an hour of online compliance training and dust their hands. For this reason, D&I must not simply become an HR tick-box. For those that get it right, D&I can be an incredibly effective tool for enthusing a team with practical and tangible outcomes.
D&I has been important to me throughout my legal career, and I’ve been lucky enough to witness impressive initiatives working within global law firms and large technology companies. Working at MediaKind has been no exception to this. In addition to driving our corporate development and M&A strategies, I’ve been proud to help steer our D&I programs working alongside our CEO, Matt McConnell, MediaKind’s Chief People Officer, David Medrano, and Jennifer Yohe.
Diversity and inclusion are quite literally within MediaKind’s DNA. As a global team operating in 29 countries, cultural and ethnic celebrations often take center stage. However, our global nature doesn’t necessarily translate into a ready-to-go D&I program. What it means to be diverse in Frisco is different from Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv, or Bangalore. If anything, it makes it more critical than ever to ensure we are providing an open and inclusive environment for all of our employees.
Today’s challenge facing most hiring managers is: how do I find candidates from diverse backgrounds that can demonstrate years of experience? On the one hand, recruiters want a resume that shows dedicated expertise in a particular field. But you’re not always going to find a diverse group of candidates – particularly young women – if they haven’t had the opportunity to establish that experience. Recruiters need to juggle finding someone who has expertise in their field yet who also brings diverse talents and fresh perspectives to the team.
Unconscious bias is another factor at play here, which of course, is a universal challenge. The simple, yet often overlooked, solution for hiring managers is to focus on equality – and that starts with being more open when looking for candidates. One of the great initiatives MediaKind has started is a new internship program, which seeks to attract young graduates and get the MediaKind name out there – intending to attract a new generation of talent and ideas. We’re proud that last year’s program delivered notable success, including:
One of the things that we hope to get out of this year’s program is an even greater diversity of thought. MediaKind is fortunate to have employees who have worked in the media technology industry for 20 to 30 years, which is, of course, an incredible asset. We now want to bring in fresh thoughts from a range of backgrounds that will help us understand the needs of our customers and ultimately drive innovation and new ways of working.
One of the best ways to learn about new approaches to D&I is to speak with other prominent business leaders and share our own experiences and motives. I recently partook in The Women in Law Summit Series, which offered hopeful insights into the progression being made in D&I within law and left me with some inspiring takeaways.
One particular panel session that caught my attention examined how women with families or priorities outside of work find a balance with their personal lives – particularly during quarantine. What struck me was the panel’s moderator, a woman from a large US-based tech company, who held her baby in her lap as she was moderating the session. This was such an incredible moment for me and hit home the importance of senior leaders showcasing how they juggle their priorities.
The first thing technology companies can do to embrace D&I? Have more open discussions! Diversity can be expressed in a whole host of ways, whether it’s subtle conversations or hosting events and speakers. Another key priority at MediaKind is focusing more on LGBTQ+ inclusion, and as part of our D&I initiatives, we realize there is a lot more that can be done here. Across the industry, I’ve seen companies increasingly host panel sessions about LGBTQ+ experiences, sharing people’s coming out stories from both the LGBTQ+ person as well as their families and friends.
At MediaKind, we’ve recently introduced a photography club where our employees can showcase their family structures, diverse cultural backgrounds, and personal interests in a welcoming environment. This gives people a chance to celebrate a particular religious or ethnic holiday, or even favorite foods and cuisines. The MediaKindness Employee Wellness Program also seeks to respect people’s personal and family lives, offering perks such as having your birthday off, cycling and yoga schemes, and healthy eating programs.
From parental responsibilities and caregiving duties to people’s passions and interests outside of work, nobody is a one-faceted person. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be reflected in a working environment. We can work from anywhere, as Miranda Schwanke recently highlighted! Our personalities and drives bring a team together and harbor a culture of acceptance and celebration.
We all have so much to learn from each other. Sharing our experiences and having a platform to showcase diversity at work is just the first step. If I had one piece of advice for a young person looking to break into law – be yourself. Opportunities within law – both at law firms and internally – are changing rapidly. Companies are becoming a lot more open to hearing fresh and diverse ideas from a range of backgrounds.
Don’t let your diversity be a barrier – let it be the catalyst for putting yourself out there and driving your success.