The results from the World Economic Forum on the Gender Equality Gap 2020 remind us there’s still a long way to go to true gender parity.
99.5 years they estimate.
Luckily companies like CPM have been championing equality and diversity for decades.
Owned by the Omnicom group, they’ve been a global force in the outsourced field sales and marketing landscape for the last 85 years, now operating within 35 countries across the globe.
Creating an inclusive culture is nothing new to the CPM Teams, it’s in their DNA, reflected in the fact that 50% of the group’s senior leadership is female.
Step inside this progressive organisation and see how they’re actioning the change we need to see.
CPM has supported #IWD since 1997.
Mike Hughes, CPM’s CEO says: “CPM has always been a gender-diverse business but like many things, there is more we can and will do.
Supporting IWD allows us to celebrate the achievements of the thousands of women who work for CPM throughout the world and I would like to thank all of you for what you do for CPM, for each other, for our clients and for our and your communities.
Through our owners Omnicom, we are fortunate and happy to be able to actively participate in global initiatives such as OPEN and Omniwomen; this makes our company a more diverse, equal and inclusive environment which in turn allows us to do the best job for our clients by reflecting the societies in which we live and work.
I really like this year’s IWD theme ‘Choose To Challenge’. A challenged world is an alert world and I would like to think all our colleagues feel able to call out gender bias and inequality and to be treated seriously and with respect when you do, but if you don’t, this is the year for that to change and I would encourage you all to exercise your ability to choose to challenge”.
Michelle Tugwell, CPM’s new Chief People Officer says over the coming years they’ll harness a global strategy. Currently, a lot is done at local level albeit with joined-up initiatives through OPEN & Omniwomen and its annual summit.
Michelle’s passionate about creating a truly diverse and inclusive culture whilst challenging traditional stereotypes in the workplace.
She states how important it is that people feel they can be themselves and benefit from an inclusive, supportive team around them.
Having never been overtly ‘ambitious’ and being open about sometimes lacking in confidence herself, she learnt she was capable of doing increasingly more senior jobs from the confidence others (both female and male bosses) had in her.
“As a company, we’re big on mentorship. I’ve seen from personal experience when others have confidence in you, you believe you’re capable too”.
Mentoring and leading by example comes naturally to CPM.
Karen says it was CPM’s investment in sponsorship and mentoring that made a big difference to her self-belief.
“I was very lucky to have 2 great female sponsors at CPM. They encouraged me, championed me, and gave me the confidence to believe I could take on more senior leadership roles”.
Luci Beaufort -Dysart – Director of Hyphen is joining Karen on the Omniwomen committee this year and is excited to help shape the events and 2021 year-long programme. For Luci, investing in a company’s culture is only ever a good thing.
“I had a couple of female bosses in my former career who really championed me and taught me how important it is to: treat everyone with respect, not to dwell on the inevitable things that go wrong and to build relationships with people at every level”.
She believes getting along with your colleagues is key to getting the most out of your work.
“I’m one of the senior leads on our internal sports and social committee. Driving this forward is something I feel passionately about”.
Kirstin Knight –General Manager of Cosine, joined CPM’s subsidiary company just 18 months ago. Whilst she’s keen to point out she’s enjoyed working with inspiring male and female colleagues since joining the CPM family, she says it’s refreshing to be part of a company with so many women in senior roles.
“One of the most challenging things for me to overcome as a female leader has been balancing my career with raising my kids; especially as one of my children has special needs. In my former career, I had to tell a few white lies to attend medical appointments (there were so many!), which I’m ashamed to admit.
Because of my experiences, I want to commit to being as supportive and flexible as I can be so no other parent – male or female feels they can’t cope anymore”.
How brilliant is it to hear this sort of honest dialogue?
“CPM has been a part of my life for 18 years and as CEO of the French Group the last 13 years, there have been challenges.
CPM has become my second family, my second pillar. I’m able to do this role by putting in a lot of work, being tenacious and with thanks to tremendous relationships (both male and female), which enable me to achieve a good balance between personal and professional life, because the time devoted to my two daughters is the most precious to me”.
On the issue of achieving that elusive balance (family + career), it’s worth talking about flexibility in the workplace.
CPM is a People business, offering a wide variety of career opportunities in an array of disciplines, some of which are part-time or tactical/project-based. So, there’s always been a degree of flexibility ingrained within their culture.
While many commentators have spoken about their hope that the post-pandemic world will begin to reset many of the imbalances in society, CPM are in a brilliant position to catapult off the back of the great work they’ve already done.
Michelle says that everyone has adapted so well to working from home, they’re reviewing their working practices to see how elements of this can remain in the future.
Diversity & Flexibility
Within a world of increasing diversity, accelerated by globalisation and the ability to remote work (thanks COVID), we expect work expectations to change, from both employees and employers alike.
CPM are committed to embracing diversity and flexibility.
Lorraine Butler – MD of CPM Ireland says she wants CPM to challenge themselves to consider the diversity of how family units are created and aligning support for employees around this, as a means to helping create concentrated change.
“At CPM Ireland, we’re currently looking into how we can implement incremental support(s) for families going through fertility treatment, ensuring people have the bandwidth and freedom to go through this challenging experience without the additional challenges of worrying about keeping this hidden from work”.
Lorraine also points out another issue of huge importance here:
“Given people are our greatest asset, we need to be mindful of ageism”.
As far as both diversity and inclusivity go, this couldn’t be more poignant today.
The female workforce aged 50-64 has grown 50% in the last 10 years.
The outdated view that women of a certain age just want to wander off into a menopausal fog or coast their way into retirement, is completely off the mark.
CPM value equality and diversity and develop staff throughout their careers.
CPM works hard to understand the challenges that women face in their careers, not just around family but as the gender more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome (or admit to it anyway), and be judged by their age and the conditions that can accompany these life stages.
Veronique says gender equality is part of CPM’s DNA.
“Every year we ensure we make changes and one example is with our gender equality index. Last year we increased our score by 9 points (97/100). The fact our Executive committee is 50% female spreads inclusivity into the whole company. This year I’m committing to even more involvement, Co-Chairing Omniwomen France.”
Recruitment and attraction
With an understanding of the importance of finding new talent, from more diverse backgrounds and via more diverse sources, CPM has established a new recruitment strategy in the UK and are looking at replicating this across the group.
They work hard to ensure their advertising and selection process is free from gender bias. By decoding ad copy to eliminate words with unconscious bias and using creative containing more balanced representation from all walks of life. Plus, they’re placing increased emphasis on ‘will versus skill’. Focusing more on behaviours and attitude versus direct experience, they’ve seen an increase in the diversity of applications.
And finally, CPM is choosing to challenge old-fashioned stereotypes common in the workplace.
Michelle is a huge advocate of being open, honest and genuine.
CPM has been focused on supporting employee’s mental wellbeing, making a variety of tools and resources available, and have recently trained a team of Mental Health First Aiders.
They also operate a menopause policy, looking to protect their employees’ wellbeing in whatever way they can.
By speaking out and encouraging honesty, CPM hope the future of work will alter unconscious behaviours and attitudes for the better.
And as Lorraine Butler reminds us, Anita Roddick had some excellent advice:
“If you think you are too small to make an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito”!
With CPM #ChooseToChallenge and taking action week in week out, it might be less than 99.5 years until gender parity is in touching distance.
Watch this CPM space
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