DEI Charter a welcome introduction for the industry

PETALING JAYA: The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), of which the Malaysian Association of Advertisers (MAA) is a member, officially presented the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) Charter for Change at recent Cannes Lions held in France.

The objective of the charter is to lead concrete actions and improve the experiences of the different groups working in the advertising and marketing industry.

It identifies the actions organizations need to take to ensure a better work experience.

The charter was developed based on inputs from the 2021 DEI Global Census, which was the industry’s first-ever global initiative among advertising and marketing professionals in 27 markets, including Malaysia, to gauge the extent of diversity and inclusion.

Key factor

MAA President Claudian Navin Stanislaus said, “The introduction of the charter comes at a good time as the industry prepares to adopt the DEI.

“It will serve as a guide for multinationals as well as local brands and agencies to implement changes to ensure the needs and perspectives of their different talent groups are taken into account.

“A diverse, equal and inclusive workplace is a key driver of talent retention and recruitment.”

He added that MAA looks forward to being part of WFA’s second wave of DEI research in 2023.

The charter identifies 11 main areas for action, four at the leadership level, seven to address the challenges faced by specific groups as follows:

Act for leadership

> Create a diverse management team: where groups are not represented, management must have strategies for short-term progress and beyond.

> Understand and democratize your company’s data: Leaders need to understand the data of inclusion: who is being promoted at all levels and what barriers are holding certain groups back.

> Create transparent policies and publish them; Organizations should strengthen anti-discrimination policies and be transparent in policies, expectations of leaders and employees, and how to escalate if necessary.

> Create psychological safety and support: Truly safe spaces allow employees to speak up.

Companies must invest in qualified animation for these spaces and have clear rules of engagement.

Action to support under-represented groups

> Age: Providing ongoing coaching, mentoring and career development to both experienced and young employees shows that the organization is committed to supporting and retaining all forms of talent, regardless of age.

> Caregiving: Ensuring that decision-making roles include leaders with care responsibilities – for the young, but also for the elderly and the sick – can both set a positive example for others and encourage the adoption of flexible policies.

Adding emergency caregiver support to employer benefit plans can actively help people with caring responsibilities.

> Gender: companies need to understand and improve the lived experiences of women. Support plans should be tailored to the cultural differences and employment conditions of each market, so that women feel valued and have sufficient support to progress in their careers.

> Race and Ethnicity: Creating programs and spaces specifically designed to support and empower ethnic minorities helps demonstrate engagement and progress with populations who typically report poorer lived experiences. > Disability and Neurodivergence: Businesses should prioritize actions that help normalize and improve understanding of all forms of disability.

Accessibility needs should be discovered and considered as part of the employee onboarding experience.

> Sexual orientation and gender identity; Companies must have policies in place to protect all employees, including salary, bonuses, parental leave, health insurance benefits must be explicitly available to all employees.

Mental Health Action

> It is important to continually provide and promote mental health benefits so that they are accessible and prioritized.

People managers should be trained on how to respond to mental health issues and have supportive mental health discussions with employees.

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