Introducing the GPJ ANZ DEIB Initiative
“What does the B stand for?” – is a question I’ve been asked a few times when talking about the ANZ GPJ DEIB Initiative. “Is it the Diversity Equity & Inclusion Board?!”
No, it’s not.
“B is for Belonging”… it is the litmus test for ensuring that the efforts around D: Diversity, E: Equity and I: Inclusion have all landed, as intended. For that reason, it is probably the most important of the intentions as, without belonging, you need to go back and see where things went wrong along the way.
I’ve been with GPJ ANZ for nearly seven years and diversity and inclusion was something that I could see elements of, but we didn’t have a plan for how to focus on it – beyond HR requirements. That, I’m happy to share, is no longer the case. Our DEIB Collective has taken shape and has already made a positive impact on our business and for our team. Starting was tricky, but just over 18 months in, we wanted to share our experience in getting ourselves going. Because let’s be honest — starting something can often be the hardest part. Talking with friends in other walks of life, I know that GPJ is not alone in getting something started in the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) space, so I hope that our story is helpful for others considering how and when to start a D&I initiative.
On a personal note, I’m not from a marginalised section of the community. I’m a privileged, white, middle class, cis female. Therefore, having been asked to create a Diversity & Inclusion workgroup, I wondered;
- How can I do this, I’m no expert?
- Am I the best person to lead a DEIB Collective?
- Do I have the bandwidth?
- If we’re going to do this, it has to be genuine, sincere and with the right motivation.
As I considered these ‘potential excuses’ the loudest and clearest thought was, ‘how could I say that I care about D&I matters, that I’m an ally and yet do nothing about it?’. The answer is, you can’t. So, I jumped in and figured that getting a bit uncomfortable must mean that growth and progress were on the horizon.
We all start somewhere and if we don’t start, then frankly, nothing will follow.
I was lucky. GPJ is part of Project Worldwide – a global network of wholly-owned creative agencies. As such, I could tap into others who had already ventured down the D&I path ahead of me. That prompted some very interesting conversations. What struck me most was how ‘diversity’ has such a different sense of purpose and meaning depending on where you are in the world.
Here in Australia and New Zealand diversity means the full range of differences; indigenous culture to Australia and New Zealand, multi-cultural, gender identification, age, disability, gender equity and sexual orientation. But talk to colleagues in other parts of the world, and you quickly discover that we don’t all enjoy the same freedoms. Especially when it comes to the LGBTIQA+ community.
Whilst you may not have a similar community to tap into, there is a myriad of options to help you establish what your starting reference might be. There are some references at the end of this piece to help you get started — and that is the most important thing to do … START!
Start small, start focused, find someone or a group to help get to that first rung on the ladder. That someone may be in your own organisation, or outside, it really doesn’t matter. I spoke to lots of friends who work in a variety of businesses and industries to hear what they were doing. Once you start the conversation, you’ll be pleasantly surprised (I hope) to hear how many others want to support your efforts and will share their
own experiences. That support and validation is a big confidence boost and really helps in taking that first step.
Bringing it back to ANZ
After a good amount of reading and talking with a number of people far wiser and more experienced than me on D&I matters, it was time to build ‘the group’.
During the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, there was discussion within GPJ ANZ around how we could respond to the strong desire for action and change in our community. I had a starting point. Those who were motivated to respond to that discussion were my target audience.
I opted to invite specific individuals to join the DEIB Collective. Perhaps ironically, it was not ‘open to all’ because we needed a small and effective group to get us up and running. We started with eight. Eight was a good number for us, and we had a mix of roles, cultural backgrounds and different sexual orientations on our team to reflect our focus on diversity. Everyone was keen to do their bit – whatever that may be.
Personal Passion Projects
Whenever a group requires voluntary time on top of their regular job, individual passions need to, and should, play an important role. DEIB benefits from those personal passions in my opinion. Those passions may be driven by self-interest or personal experience, but that’s not a huge concern as that energy and enthusiasm is being used for the greater good.
Authenticity was the other fundamental core value that came up time and again, across all our DEIB Collective members. “I will only do this if we really can make a difference” alongside;
“I’m not interested in ticking a corporate D&I box if it doesn’t mean anything” was loud and clear and has held true for our collective. It’s a keel that keeps us on course and is necessary to drive progress when the momentum hits some choppier waters.
Where to get started
This was fun! The ideation process in an agency environment is going to be interactive! Of course, the enthusiasm, motivation and desire to drive change was palpable and we had a slew of ideas and explored the different ‘categories’ that our DEIB initiatives could fall under:
- Race / Culture
- Disability / Accessibility
- Sexual orientation
- Gender self-identity
- Gender equity
- Wellbeing (Inclusion / Belonging)
For a company of our size, we knew that despite all of our best intentions, we needed to prioritise and find where our focus areas would be. We gathered the thoughts of our collective and then sought input from the broader GPJ community via a survey. Our intention was to get buy-in on the priorities, which we achieved.
I could write a MUCH longer piece on how we reached our priorities, and I’ll admit that the process of getting there was interesting, especially when it came to ‘servicing the needs of our current GPJ workforce’ vs. ‘creating a space where we can grow as a workforce in terms of what we offer and how we show up differently’. This was especially true given we launched during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and we were all working from home.
The outcome is that we’ve focused on the following ‘core foundations’ as our initial phase. It does not mean that other elements are forgotten or ignored, they’re just not the priority for us right now.
- GPJ ANZ DEIB Core Foundations:
- Partnering with ANZ Indigenous Communities
- Diversification of our hiring pool sources and partnerships
- Ensuring gender equality and equity
- Supporting LGBTIQA+ communities
Of course, the above focus areas are not short term, they require ongoing commitment – but we are developing short, medium and long-term goals against each of these areas. We have a lead for each foundation, who draws from the larger community, as well as the collective to help drive their core foundation forward. Some areas are more developed in terms of a plan than others, but steps in the right direction are being made for each one.
Yes – I’m feeling accountable right now! Putting this out to the broader community is going to help us hold ourselves to account – so thank you for that extra motivation. It’s a challenging topic to discuss, but it’s too important to ignore and the rewards more than outweigh the challenges.
The research we had done encouraged setting targets for our objectives, and we all recognised that measuring something is more likely to drive the desired outcome. However, we also found ourselves discussing the following points at length:
- How do we measure how we’re doing?
- Is measurement driving tokenism?
- If we don’t measure how do we know we’re driving change?
We needed to find our starting point. As such, we are being realistic about what we can measure, and how that ties to our corporate ethics compass. Frankly, our first measures have been simple:
- Get a collective started
- Agree to quarterly priorities
- Meet 30 / 60 / 90 day objectives
- Report progress back to the GPJ community and leadership team
And that’s been enough, at least for now.
Have these measures been enough to keep the team coming together, continuing to drive progress and achieve some key milestones? – such as:
- Changes in parental leave policy (before the government announcement, and our policy surpasses the new requirements)
- Gender pronoun awareness
- Performance review process & mentoring for future female leaders
- Gender pay equity review shared with the company
- Our new hires are a more diverse cross-section of society
- Initiating listening to our indigenous community for guidance on how best to partner
- We also enjoyed scoping and creating the GPJ DEIB logo at the top of this blog
YES they have! The above are some of our achievements in the past 12 months, starting with a small – but mighty – team of eight.
And so … back to that ‘B’ for belonging. Simply starting this DEIB Collective has increased my sense of belonging. Without our collective, I wouldn’t have heard some of the remarkable stories that I’ve had the honour of listening to, know who else in our broader community would want to get involved in our D&I efforts and fundamentally be reassured time and again that we DO CARE and we WILL make a difference.
I have learned so much and there is a lifetime of learning ahead. Of course, some of it is very confronting and then there are the breakthrough stories that lift us all up. If that’s on top of my day job … then count me in! I know that this is also true for my collective colleagues. We all have to juggle the realities of bandwidth. We let each other know when we’re about to hit a crazy stint and need to step back for a little while. And that’
okay because each one of us has come back to the collective as soon as things have calmed down again, which is a testament in itself.
I hope that you find your four, eight or 18 colleagues who can help your business get started on a D&I initiative if you haven’t already. We will be sharing updates from our DEIB Collective as we get beyond our training wheels. We know that this is a fundamental core value for GPJ and our clients and we look forward to sharing our experiences along the way.
Bernice Winoto (she/hers)
On behalf of ANZ GPJ DEIB Collective