Why diversity and inclusion are more than just buzzwords | M&M Global

Why diversity and inclusion are more than just buzzwords

A lot happened in 2005, YouTube was founded, Tom Cruise had his infamous jumping over the sofa on Oprah moment and British chef Jamie Oliver won his battle against Turkey Twizzlers and ultimately secured healthy school lunches for children in the UK.

Personally, we’ll always remember 15 years ago as the year Festival of Media started. A lot has happened since the then and it’s fair to say the industry and us have evolved.

A couple of weeks ago we sat down as a team and asked ourselves: What does Festival of Media stand for? It was a really interesting discussion and a question we promise to keep asking ourselves. The outcome of this debate, was shaped into a 12 point value proposition, which can be read in full as part of our media kit here

The ninth point on that list is: “As well as listening to wider conversations we are not afraid to use our voice and offer opinions. Championing the importance of diversity, inclusion and the importance of being accountable for our actions and the work we produce and endorse.” But, as we touched upon two weeks ago, actions speak louder than words. Wanting to lead the way and stay true to our word diversity and inclusion are so much more than buzzwords at Festival of Media. To showcase this we caught up with our CEO, Jeremy King and Head of Awards, Louise Byrnes to find out what they had to say on the matter.

Jeremy: “It all happened in 2015 when I was interviewing industry leader, innovator and all round amazing person Lindsay Pattison on stage at Festival of Media Global in Rome. While interviewing Lindsay it dawned on me – and she also pointed it out live on stage –only 20% of our speakers were female.”

That one moment sparked a change and as a business I was determined to take the company on an inclusive journey across all of its output. Always a very inclusive organisation in terms of employees plans were set in motion to ensure its events, from experience and speakers to judges and content, were as inclusive as they could be. This involved a number of conversations with a range of diversity and inclusion industry champions with whom one, Sam Phillips, became a huge contributor and influence upon Festival of Media and I.div

It was not without its critics and naysayers, which were evident when at the start of a panel on inclusion on the main stage at Festival of Media Global 2016 when nearly every man in the audience left, or when a number of former senior media bosses asked ‘why are you including this inclusion rubbish in your agenda?’, but regardless we had started a mission we wanted to continue and over the last six years we opened the Festival with a blind speaker – Caroline Casey – who told us she had asked to speak at another acclaimed media event, but was told disability was not an important issue – she is now one of the most sought after speakers in the world – changed the days of the event to enable single parents a better opportunity to attend and ensured our awards juries were inclusive.”

Now, a person who knows a fair bit about how juries are put together, is Louise Byrnes our Head of Awards, and here’s what she had to say on the topic when we caught up with her.

Louise: “The judging panel is made up of professionals who are respected in their field, have worked on notable campaigns (hopefully winning a few trophies along the way!), who are passionate about the industry, and 100% dedicated to discovering the best work of the year. As you can see there are a few boxes to tick in order to be selected for the panel, but for us to truly identify the best campaigns, we must ensure there is a mix of distinguished jurors, with a diverse range of perspectives and experiences, who know what they are talking about and can engage in (a sometimes gritty) debate!

 But the jury selection process doesn’t stop at skillsets and accolades – for the panel to effectively consider campaigns from all corners of the globe we must include judges who do just that, whether it be nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation, or age, we strive to create inclusive judging panels reflecting the world we live in today.

Over the past few years we have seen an increase in campaigns that bring much needed attention to gay rights, gender bias and racism, and we hope that the addition of the ‘Inclusive Campaign of the Year’ category continues to celebrate those noteworthy projects from the industry that truly cater to audiences from all areas of society, especially those who might usually be excluded.”

In a nutshell we are always striving to look for new ways to be more inclusive and as an awards company one of the best ways we can do this is by providing a platform to celebrate the campaigns that are getting it right. As part of the Inclusive Campaign of the Year our jury will be looking to award a brand that created an inclusive campaign ensuring individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, capabilities and perspectives were part of the process from ideation to implementation.

Does this sound like you? Then, you better get cracking as entries for our Global Awards close on 18 February

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