Getting your voice heard in a crowded room
by Kathryn Jacob, CEO, Pearl & Dean

Kathryn highlights the dilemma some organisations face with diversity and inclusion and discusses how underrepresented marketers can get their voices heard.

8th October 2021 Read time: 48 minutes
Overcoming the challenges of diversity and inclusion internally and ‘hearing all voices’ is a challenge that organisations should meet head-on. But what’s the first step?  
Kathryn Jacob is the CEO of Pearl & Dean, a British cinema advertising company. She has worked at the Daily Telegraph, Virgin Radio, is a member of the Government Expert Group on Body Confidence, and the Advertising Association Council. She’s the ex-president of Women in Advertising and Communications and sits on the Development Board of Women’s Aid. In 2016, she was awarded an OBE for services to the promotion of equality and diversity. And she’s the co-author of a new book: ‘Belonging: The Key to Transforming and Maintaining Diversity, Inclusion and Equality at Work’. 
Kathryn joined the What’s Possible Community to discuss the concerted effort organisations should make to transform the workplace.  
She points out that McKinsey’s research findings on diversity are clear; companies that rank in the top quartile for diversity achieve returns that are 25% higher than companies that lack diversity.  
For those on the backfoot of implementing D&I initiatives, what’s the next step to overcoming diversity and inclusion challenges?  

Create a sense of belonging  

“As an advertising industry, and as a marketing communications industry, you will only resonate with people if they think you understand them,” Kathryn said.  
Kathryn calls for a constantly renewing empathy for diverse people in workplaces, which creates a sense of belonging in an organisation.  
“It’s about properly understanding and resonating with the communities we aim to serve. And so, we need to talk to each other, and we need to encourage people to know that they can speak up and that their voices will be heard,” she says.   
Notably, she stresses that changing the narrative of inclusivity in an organisation should not be an empty virtue-signalling, tick-box exercise. If it’s meaningless, talent will vote with their feet. They can see that management has no plan for diverse solutions that suit them. 
Kathryn partook in the ‘All In Campaign’ in 2020;  a diversity and inclusivity census of the advertising industry. It revealed that 32% of Black talent and 27% of Asian talent are leaving their jobs.  

There’s work to do  

Workplaces face a host of challenges to overcome; the gender pay gap, sexual orientation discrimination, ageism, ableism- the list goes on. Kathryn encourages business leaders to focus on one issue at a time, find the relevant resources to guide them in their D&I initiatives and work their way down the list of the problems that management can remedy.   
“Even if you do that one thing, it’s a start,” Kathryn stated.  
Kathryn encourages individuals to build their confidence and meaningfully contribute to meetings. 
Moreover, she advocates for building a company culture of allyship. She says that will help support underrepresented groups and enable them to be themselves and feel supported by their colleagues. Most importantly, those individuals will feel that their colleagues hear their voices. 
“It doesn’t have to be a big intervention; it’s just every day, just being there for each other, and it’s leading from every seat,” Kathryn said.