On Thursday, 10 September, the dedicated and volunteer-driven Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) team at Zenith Global went on a journey – as individuals and as a collective.

Following Publicis Groupe’s Pause for Action Day in early June, Zenith Global’s D&I taskforce launched “A Collective Voice is Power,” a quarterly, half-day workshop designed to build awareness and address important diversity issues that are affecting our industry and business, including how to create a more inclusive culture.

What does it mean to be truly diverse and inclusive? What does it means having a culture that is open and proud of diversity? What are the benefits of a complex multifaceted cohort of colleagues?

To answer these questions, we had to start by facing the reality that the world we live in isn’t always as inclusive and diverse as we’d like to believe. And as humans, we might have unconscious biases the seep into our work and personal lives.

We decided to pause and have an uncomfortable conversation, because at some point in our lives, everyone has felt discriminated against and most likely has discriminated against others, too. Discrimination doesn’t always express itself in the form of physical violence or open rejection; it can happen more subtly in the form of an unconscious bias.

Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs that stem from categorisations that generalise groups of people. Unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with one’s conscious values.

A simple example that one of our guest speaker’s admitted to is associating people with a lot of tattoos to the idea of being less serious, professional or reliable at work. But then you happen to start dating a person with a lot of tattoos, and your unconscious bias completely change, because you get to know the reality behind the stereotype. As always, knowledge and awareness can bring light to the darkness that spreads from ignorance.

A selection of great keynote speakers and panellists from in and outside the media industry shaped an intense agenda that moved the attendees. Everyone who spoke was selected for their thought-provoking reflections that resonated and rang true with the audience.

A few things that stuck with me:

  • Even if I am a woman and I strive to be as open-minded and appreciating of someone different from me, most likely I am a recovering racist or sexist because at some point I probably judged that person or justified that behaviour due to their appearance, gender, skin colour or country of origin.
  • We all need to be a bit braver and ask for a point of view from people that are different from us. Having a conversation is not the solution, but for sure it’s the beginning of change.
  • As human beings, we are extremely quick at judging (often erroneously) someone. But if we take the time and effort to step back and acknowledge it, we still have time to unpack and change our first thought. It’s a matter of habit and practise.

The workshop was the first of a series that will regularly mark the cultural agenda of Zenith Global. Because Diversity and Inclusion is not a one-off topic, continual learning is a habit we all need to nourish with dedication that starts from simple daily acts.

The mission of our D&I team is not only to raise awareness on the issue, but to also provide tools and resources to our people who want to become proactive allies. The feedback received so far has been extremely positive.

There is a long and exciting journey ahead of us, but I’m confident we’re continuing on the right path, as a company, and as an individual who belongs to a much broader and global community.

A collective voice is power and together we can make change.

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