Today is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, a UN International Day that promotes bridging the gap between cultures as an urgent and necessary practice for peace, stability and development. The day also emphasizes the importance of dialogue when it comes to improving respect, inclusion and mutual understanding between cultures.
As a global company with offices in over 100 countries, we work with colleagues and clients daily that have different cultural backgrounds, speak different languages and practice different faiths. We believe that the confluence of our differences fuels our creativity, drive and, ultimately, the work we do for our clients every single day. And we know that ongoing communication is essential to creating collaborative and sustainable success, both internally and externally. Everything we do at BCW is about moving people – our people, our clients and our agency. We can think of nothing more critical than moving people toward inclusion, equity and diversity for all.
In the spirit of creating dialogue that supports cultural inclusion, we’re sharing a few ways that BCW’s global community works together to create space for conversation around cultural diversity that allows us to learn, grow and thrive.
Destination Inclusion is a month-long, topic-driven employee program that ensures BCW lives a culture that embraces inclusivity through learning, discussion, activities and action. The award-winning program, now in its third year, was created by BCW’s dedicated Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (I.D.E.A.) team, led by Chief Inclusion Officer Carol Watson in partnership with our Chief Culture Officer Kristen Lisanti. Employees around the world – from global leadership to junior staff – come together to learn, grow and empower each other to challenge their own biases, change conversations and take action to make BCW a more inclusive place to work.
In September 2020, the inaugural Destination Inclusion: 21-Day Journey examined the many facets of inclusion, including personal communication styles, subtle acts of exclusion, power and privilege and allyship and upstanding. Employees participated in several activities that helped them better understand the intersection of culture, privilege and inclusion. This included creating a personal Culture Map that identified the similarities and differences between our regions, and how we can benefit from this awareness. Last year’s program, Destination Inclusion II: Breaking Bias, was designed to help our people recognize and dismantle biases within ourselves, our teams, our organization and even our client work.
Returning for its third year, Destination Inclusion III is zeroing in on the theme of equity and asking how we can instill equity as a linchpin of an authentically inclusive culture and embed it into driving sustainable business outcomes. Throughout the month employees participate in global live conversations, interactive e-learning modules, weekly micro-actions, quizzes and more to learn what equity means, where it shows up and how to create more equitable experiences for all.
Providing a Space for All Employees to Thrive Through IDEA
BCW is the global communications agency built to move people, including our own. Through the lens of IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accountability), BCW hosts several groups, activities and programming that provide all employees a safe space to collaborate, learn and grow.
Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in North America are one of the most powerful ways we support our diverse team. Our ERGs connect a community of colleagues within a specific diversity dimension across functions and roles, helping them network, build key leadership skills, gain greater visibility, and access to senior leadership and have an impact at BCW and the outside community to accelerate their careers. The ERGs are open to all employees, which encourages a deeper level of allyship, understanding and appreciation across our entire community. North America currently has seven ERGs that serve several diversity dimensions including race, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, sexual orientation and parental status.
The ERGs are also instrumental in developing programs and initiatives that build awareness of key issues and events that affect these communities, creating value and impact for our people, our culture, our clients and our community. They are often the first to engage around critical current events, distill valuable information and share it with employees, clients and partners. Our ERGs also spearhead campaigns for celebrating heritage months and supporting ongoing events and educational activities. For example, during Black History Month, AAER (African American / Black ERG) executed an integrated rollout of internal and external programming in North America, including virtual events, client guides, workshops, and even released their own Spotify playlist.
Across all our regions, IDEA Think Tanks are dedicated to bringing together colleagues across levels, markets, and practices to make impactful changes with our organization through the lens of Inclusion & Diversity. This includes work to localize actions and initiatives in their respective regions to support employees, as well as work as an advisory resource to talent acquisition and HR teams, helping to source new underrepresented talent and inform how we onboard new hires.
Starting the Dialogue with Clients
BCW’s commitment to cultural diversity extends beyond our people. We believe that to connect and change people in a polycultural world, we must understand them across multiple connected, fluid dimensions of culture.
In Europe & Africa, BCW Grow IDEA features a network of consultants within BCW with specific knowledge and context for a wide range of IDEA-focused issues that support our client teams and new business development. In North America, initiatives such as our Polycultural Consulting Unit and Cultural Insights Think Tank help clients understand, connect with and move diverse stakeholder audiences through nuanced, hyper-resonant, precisely deployed communications and campaigns that are culturally relevant and promote inclusion and diversity in the workplace and beyond. Learn more about what we offer clients.
One of the greatest perks of working for a global company is the exposure to many different cultures around the world. Every day we collaborate with colleagues across the globe, and in turn discover differences in cultures. To make the most of this, we look for ways to amplify the voices of our people to promote better understanding and empathy. In addition to the celebration of heritage months, this also includes:
Honoring religious diversity and creating content to help the global community learn more.
For example, during Ramadan we created and shared a video answering important questions about the celebration and its importance to Muslims to help us better understand how to support and engage with our Muslim colleagues.
Sharing regional research and campaigns to promote understanding of the cultures of the various markets in which we operate.
This includes internal promotion of studies such as the Arab Youth Survey, conducted by ASDA’A BCW, and the African Youth Survey, conducted by BCW Africa. These studies explore insights into the attitudes and aspirations of youth in their respective regions.
Identifying our similarities and sharing them. Every day we strive to do this in big and small ways.
From our BCW Masterclass courses, which are employee-led classes that cover everything from Indian cooking to Irish dancing, to sharing our global love of pets in our monthly “Pets of BCW” series on Instagram.
The World Day for Cultural Diversity is a great reminder of how important it is to learn about, understand and start a dialogue around our diverse cultures. Inclusion is not only a business imperative – it is the right thing to do, and BCW is committed to creating an inclusive culture where everyone feels safe and challenged to grow. Not just today, but every day.