'Changing the complexion of the industry': Publicis Groupe Canada launches bold DE&I, mental health mandate

Canada’s largest and leading communications group has launched an ambitious workplace and industry Diversity, Equity & Inclusion mandate under four pillars: Education, Outreach, Talent Management and Giving Back

TORONTO, Jan. 21, 2022 /CNW/ – As part of a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion not only in its offices but the communications industry more broadly, Publicis Groupe Canada has launched a series of new DE&I initiatives for 2022, including an educational outreach program for young, racialized Canadians, and bold partnerships that aim to have a meaningful impact on the wellbeing of its people, communities, and business.

A Groupe task force developed the mandate under four key pillars: Education, Outreach, Talent Management and Giving Back, each with its own partners and programs to foster growth, support and understanding within and outside the Groupe. Formed as a myriad of industries reckon with the state of work, mental health and racial inequality, the Groupe mandate boldly sets a new standard for human resources and professional development.

“As we reflected on the state of our industry, and so many others, it became clear that more needed to be done internally, but also that our actions could serve as a catalyst for the wider advertising industry,” said Stephanie McRae, Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Publicis Groupe Canada, and Vice-President Human Resources for Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi. “Since the preliminary launch of the mandate, our efforts have already proven successful, with exciting new long-term partnerships in development and positive feedback related to swift policy changes and updates that speak to the needs of our people today when they need it.”

Support for Publicis Groupe Canada Employees

Among the range of pressing needs addressed by the Groupe mandate is enhanced mental health supports, as the risk of burnout during the pandemic restrictions has been well documented over the last two years. In 2021, the Groupe increased access to mental health benefits to $5,000 annually across the board. Plus, to acknowledge the diverse health needs of our employees, the Groupe added more targeted supports, including up to $50,000 per lifetime in support of gender affirmation care for transgender employees, and increased fertility treatment supports.

As families across Canada navigate shifting safety protocols that have closed, reopened and re-closed schools and daycares, the Groupe continued to enhance its commitment to supporting parents at home. In 2021, the Groupe audited its health benefits policies to include a 100 per cent salary top up for the first six weeks of parental and instituted flexible meeting policies that factor in the varying responsibilities of employees’ home lives. In coordination with the U.S. team, the Groupe ran “Publicis School” sessions, including after-school programming, featuring video sessions with families to read stories, cook, dance, learn magic and participate in science workshops to allow a pause for Groupe parents.

“As part of our Talent Management pillar, support for employees through boosted mental health policies was a no-brainer,” added McRae. “Managing talent cannot be a siloed effort, but instead has to account for the needs of employees in their roles and in their homes – especially today. We’re proud to have made industry-leading mental health progress over the last year, from education and training to access to vital supports.”

Support for Young, Black, Indigenous and Racialized Canadians

Among the Groupe’s boldest new programs is This Is The Job (thisisthejob.org), an outreach initiative for Black, Indigenous and racialized teens and young adults to educate, inspire and encourage them to consider a career in advertising. During the development process, the Groupe and its partners identified a lack of diversity within the industry, marked by an absence of diverse decision-makers, plus a knowledge gap among leadership and among underrepresented racialized groups. Through This Is The Job, the Groupe aims to close that gap.

“These jobs are invisible to so many racialized Canadians, especially first-generation Canadians whose career options can often feel limited by circumstance,” said Scott Pinkney, Vice-President, Executive Creative Director of Publicis Hawkeye and one of the founders of This Is The Job. “Without proper education and awareness, the advertising industry risks falling short on being a diverse and inclusive workforce unless we ourselves take action to improve it. This Is The Job is not about recruitment, it’s about outreach, knowledge sharing, and changing the complexion of the industry.”

Officially launched in Dec. 2021, This Is The Job leverages the designing, writing, and programming talents of the Groupe to highlight 25 possible job types within the industry, and match students to the optimal opportunity for them based on a questionnaire. The Groupe has already partnered with multiple school boards in Ontario to bring This Is The Job into focus with a planned series of career sessions for Ontario students, and the goal of launching a robust mentorship program.

“This isn’t a momentary campaign, it’s a long-term platform for change and we can’t wait to see where This Is The Job takes us,” added Pinkney. Since launch, several other organizations have reached out to bring the outreach program to their communities.

Support via Education, Giving Back

The broader mandate seeks to educate and enrich the Groupe network through a speaker series and educational programs, building on the success of the more than 20 sessions in 2021, including a talk with the Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman to serve as a federal Minister of the Crown and Member of Parliament in Canada. Other guests included: Agapi Gessesse, Executive Director at the Careers Education Empowerment (CEE) Centre For Young Black Professionals; Dr. David S. Goldbloom, Senior Medical Advisor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; and Chrystal Tabobandung, founder of RAISE, an Indigenous cultural awareness and competency training program.

Efforts to make real change must also go beyond the walls of the Groupe, as demonstrated by This Is The Job as well as the mandate’s Giving Back endeavours that focus on charitable partnerships. In 2021, the Groupe offered its services pro bono to the aforementioned CEE, which will continue in 2022, and instituted an employee volunteer day policy. Next, the Groupe will launch an innovative skills development program for young BIPOC creatives interested in the advertising industry in collaboration with the key training partners POV, and the Miami Ad School Canada.

“This mandate is about the Groupe holding ourselves accountable for systemic failures, encouraging transparency, and inspiring our colleagues in the industry to do the same,” said Andrew Bruce, CEO of Publicis Groupe Canada. “An inclusive workplace is not only more inviting and supportive, but it encourages diversity of perspective and stimulate new ideas. In an industry that thrives on new ideas and innovation, that’s an exciting prospect. I’m thrilled to back our bold mandate and inspiring team as we move forward to strengthen support and create opportunities for all.”

To learn more about Publicis Groupe Canada or This Is The Job, visit publicis.ca and thisisthejob.org.

SOURCE Publicis Groupe Canada

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