Over the last few weeks, we have all been watching the news in horror and it has been a stark reminder how racism sadly is still alive and well. After further conversations both at the board and staff level we listened to the team and felt that it is time to make some changes and start an ongoing conversation about this important topic.
Siji Onabanjo, Growth Director
Navigating the subject of racism and racial equality in the workplace is tricky. It shouldn’t be, but it is. As a black man, recent events have rocked my core and to some extent left me feeling exhausted, emotionally and mentally drained. What made it worse was going on LinkedIn on blackout Tuesday to find hardly anyone talking about racism, privilege, and bias in the workplace. I addressed why the silence was deafening and such a big issue in my viral LinkedIn article.
Simultaneously, I challenged Cyber-Duck where I sit on the board to also do more. I’ve been at Cyber-Duck full-time for 9 years now. I started as an intern, quickly became the New Business Manager and 5 years ago was made a board director. One of the things that appealed to me from the first day was the diversity within the agency; walking to the interview room I could see an ethnically diverse team where the lack of diversity was notable in other companies I’d interviewed at.
I fully believe Cyber-Duck’s intentions when it comes to diversity are good but together with the CEO we’re setting the organisation the challenge of moving from a stance of being non-racist to one that is actively anti-racist.
Danny Bluestone, Founder & CEO
Being Jewish and from a family of immigrants that emigrated to the UK in the 19th century, I understand the struggles associated with being prejudged and victimised for something that I am unable to control: my religion and race. When I moved back to London from Israel, I encountered several Anti-Zionist situations at job interviews and places where I worked previously which made me feel belittled.
When I created our agency I wanted to make sure an inclusive and diverse environment was part of the DNA without judging people based on their colour, gender or religion. My own experiences make me empathise with the experiences of black people in the workplace although I acknowledge I could never truly understand – many black people are prejudged on the colour of skin whereas my background isn’t immediately obvious.
Recent events however have brought the topic of racial equality to the forefront again and I want to thank Siji for being brave and using his own platform for engaging in this topic. It has made me think more about what we can do at Cyber-Duck.
The UK IPA industry census (April 2020) shows a decrease in number of BAME leadership-level execs to just 4.7%. For transparency, at Cyber-Duck 1 of our 6 board members is black, 13% of our team are black, 27% are categorised as BAME, 31% are white (non-British), and 42% are white (British). We’ve made a conscious effort not to allow bias to influence our hiring decisions, although we are aware there is more we could be doing to improve diversity further. Here are just some of the things we have done / are doing.
- We will continue to use data and benchmarks to ensure our workforce will always remain a diverse one. We always hire for talent and do not want to be guilty of tokenism, but we will look to increase the diversity of our recruitment pool by actively promoting our roles in channels that target black and ethnic minority audiences.
- We are in conversation with apprenticeship & mentoring programmes focussed on helping black candidates and others from poorer socio-economic environments.
- Our interview panels will be made up of a mix of races and genders. We will continue to review our recruitment process as part of our ISO 9001 certification to ensure fairness throughout.
- We signed up to the Creative Equals declaration joining over 200 agency owners in making a statement that we will be proactive and hold ourselves accountable to combatting the systemic inequality in our industry. Diversity will be driven at a strategic-board level.
- We will continue to use our weekly staff meetings to openly talk about race and equality to ensure it is not something that we shy away from. We had a fantastic session following the murder of George Floyd and Siji’s article where the whole company engaged in the topic and our black team members spoke about their feelings around it. Doing things like this will continue to increase empathy levels across the company.
- We have added a number of new race and diversity related resources to our online company wiki.
- We will take the diversity and inclusivity policies of those we do business with into consideration when deciding who we work with. It is essential that our clients and suppliers share our values and are committed to change.
- We will be making donations to charities raising awareness and fighting for an end to racism as part of our ongoing social responsibility.
This is a snapshot of the some of the things we are doing. We acknowledge there is a lot more to be done than the above and we will continue to develop our actionable principles that will be embedded into our overall diversity and inclusivity policy, which addresses equality for all groups. We will continue to look into the role we can and will play in removing systemic racism and creating a more diverse digital industry.