Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
This year marks 20 years of the strategic and creative partnership between Havas and Reckitt, in what has become not just an enduring client – agency marketing arrangement, but a partnership benchmarked in aligned values across marketing and business structure.
At the start of their relationship, Havas handled 4 of Reckitt’s global power brands. Now the agency looks after 14 global brands under the Reckitt corporate brand, a true indicator of a very healthy relationship. Through their shared values of purpose-driven work and making meaningful difference in the lives of their consumers and employees, Havas has stayed true to the holistic philosophy that is integral to Reckitt.
Tamara Greene, Havas Global Brand Director for Reckitt said, “It doesn't matter how good our products, services, or comms are if we're ignoring or not proactively portraying all the many different audiences that consume us and support us.” All of this is done in the core belief that their actions have a long-lasting impact and as such, they need to be responsible with how they market their products.
Creating Tangible Impact
Havas makes sure of championing DE&I initiatives by staying in tune with what’s culturally relevant. The success that Havas and Reckitt share is thanks to their willingness to listen and to make a positive impact through true representation.
Efrain Ayala, Reckitt Global Diversity and Inclusion Director, Marketing, frames their approach:
“At Reckitt, we have six core pillars that drive our inclusion agenda; three are about who we are: Defining and redefining leadership qualities that are inclusive for that internal culture; making sure that we've got the right people; that the right retention policies are in place; and that we have the right policies to govern the spaces in which they at work at Reckitt. And the other three define what we do – and how we can leverage the power of our brands to drive positive impact to culture and society.”
Both companies understand that to make outward changes and impact they need to look inward first.
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Greene adds, "Both Havas and Reckitt are striving to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our consumers and the lives of the people that work with us.”
In a deeply altruistic move, Havas recently open-sourced an internally developed policy. ‘Press Pause’ empowers staff to stop inappropriate and potentially harmful behavior within their work environment through tools to end microaggressions in the workplace. From their employees to the wider community, Havas actively implements their core pillar of meaningful difference.
Greene adds, “… as a global network, we of course have interactions with clients, partners and suppliers all around the world. Unfortunately, some of our people were sitting in situations or conversations, whether they were internal or external, that they found uncomfortable – that were derogatory or even discriminatory in nature.” Rather than doing nothing, the Press Pause Policy ensures that the affected party will receive the support they need to address the problem. “Perhaps even more importantly”, says Greene, “it has led to conversations and further education that moves us all forward in our understanding, away from the highly emotive situation where an issue first occurs.”
The success of the Reckitt – Havas partnership also lies in the shared values of adapting, growing and making a positive impact together. Reckitt’s mission statement is to achieve a cleaner, healthier world and to do it inclusively.
Ayala notes, “...culture and society are always a changing dynamic. The relationship that we have with our agency partners also needs to evolve and we have successfully sustained this evolution because of our shared values and drive for positive impact.”
Different communities and demographics cannot be part of a cleaner, healthier world if they have bigger issues to worry about. Both Havas and Reckitt realize that tackling biases and having uncomfortable conversations is part of an authentic process of betterment.
The Learning Curve
While implementing DE&I measures, along with the Press Pause Policy, Havas & Reckitt learned that truly to reach people with their products, they need to be led by purpose and inclusivity.
Greene explains, “....it requires conversation and a real desire by the teams involved to embed inclusive thinking and practices throughout the entire process.”
This approach has led to a balance of doing good for society and doing well as a business. They’ve also learned that it is a work-in-progress, whether that is challenging ingrained beliefs, biases and even changing the way work is done, it’s going to be difficult, and mistakes will be made along the way. Both companies agree that it’s a process of trial and error but that doing something is the right approach.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
To conclude, we asked both Havas & Reckitt how they are measuring the success of their DE&I initiatives, a challenge faced by many global companies. They are beginning to work with AI tools currently in beta, that unpack quantitative data to recognize patterns and from there, how they can intervene when challenges show up. So, there are tactical analytics solutions now emerging to help.
Havas’ Greene says, "...At Havas, we are committed to women representation in the most senior roles in the business. Second, bringing in diverse talent at entry level is incredibly important, alongside creating a pathway to senior positions for diverse talent. We are actively putting programs in place to help ensure we reach these goals." From Reckitt’s side, Ayala underlines the company’s trajectory, “We want to reach 2 billion people with more purpose -led and inclusive campaigns and products, by 2030. It’s a work in progress!”
AdForum would like to thank Greene, Ayala, and both teams at Havas and Reckitt for speaking with us on their continued commitment to DE&I.