Most companies have always tried their best to remain apolitical, and rightly so. After all, political winds change direction often, and what may be expedient one day can hold a company back in the long term. This was the best option for decades, but these winds, too, have shifted in recent years. Most recently, we have seen foreign companies pulling out of Russia, showing how it is impossible for companies to remain entirely apolitical. The companies that have stayed have been widely criticised — a Yale professor has even put together a shame list — and those companies will likely receive sustained blowback for their decisions to pretend that they can keep this apolitical dream alive. Both action and inaction have consequences for your brand. Part of this has to do with younger generations that do not take silence for an answer. As the head of the brand consultancy Landor & Fitch, CEO Jane Geraghty knows just how important it is to support the right causes.
According to the CEO, “Every brand should be thinking about how they can use their platform in support of a more equal society”. In this regard, Landor & Fitch puts its money where its mouth is. They have achieved strong gender equality has been achieved across all levels of the business, with 46 per cent of its women in leadership positions and 56 per cent of all employees being female. Despite this success, the CEO has shifted her role towards supporting the people around her. “I’m very much focused on my team – mentoring, guiding, and configuring talent to ensure success, both individually and collectively. Part of this is helping foster communities within Landor & Fitch that are dedicated to enhancing diversity and inclusivity.” This commitment has seen Jane at the forefront of new initiatives that ensure everyone working within the company feels included and empowered. “We all know that creativity flourishes when different perspectives are brought together. As an industry, we had been too reliant on hiring and promoting the familiar,” Jane notes.
In 2020, in partnership with the London team, Jane championed the creation of a grassroots-led global inclusion group, Building to Belong. Their objective is to build and promote an inclusive culture and enable all employees to bring their true selves to the workplace.
The pushes for diversity are not only internal. Externally, Landor & Fitch is committed to driving inclusivity and diversity across its brand portfolio. The agency is currently working with some of the world’s leading brands on transforming their inclusivity and gender equality strategies, helping to reshape their purpose. As Jane puts it, “Brands today have recognised the value of pursuing something beyond pure profits. Purpose drives brand consideration and differentiation, and sustainability and equality have been areas that brands have sought to address”. One example is Landor & Fitch’s work with Microsoft on the ‘It’s Her” campaign, which ran during Women’s History Month in 2021, and aimed to help the tech giant elevate the role of women in tech. Landor & Fitch took over Microsoft’s internal platform, In Culture, and all of its social media channels to encourage more 18–34-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds into the tech industry.
Despite these successes, overall, the pandemic has seen women disproportionately impacted across all industries, as gender equality was put on the back burner. In fact, PwC’s 2021 Women in Work study found that companies will need to double their gender equality efforts just to recover by 2030. Like it did to national GDPs, the pandemic wiped away decades of progress. Thankfully, there are companies and brands out there that are committed to righting the ship.