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VMLY&R Launches Inclusion Experience Practice in the UK

Advertising Agency
London, UK
The practice aims to accelerate sustainable cultural change in client organisations, drive business growth and instil creative inclusivity at the core

VMLY&R: Back row L-R: Emmanuel Xirogiannis; Debbie Ellison; Jamie June Hill

VMLY&R Front row L-R: Bonnie Boodram; Eleanor Lloyd-Malcolm; Rachel Ayeh-Batey

VMLY&R has expanded its connected brand offering with the introduction of the Inclusion Experience practice in the UK, which helps businesses culturally transform to become and remain employers and brands of choice.

Nearly 70 million people live in the UK, and 16% are from multi-ethnic backgrounds. In the London area, that percentage rises to 44%. Alongside this, an estimated 1.4 million people aged 16 years and over (2.7% of the UK population) identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual in 2019, and Stonewall currently estimates just under 1% of the population identify as transgender or non-binary.

Recent research found that businesses which actively confront inequity and racism with practical measures can expect to see an improvement in their employees’ job satisfaction, loyalty, creativity and, ultimately, value. 1 In fact “83% of millennials want brands to align with them on values” 2 and the importance of that aspect of purchase decisions is only growing.

The Inclusion Experience practice builds on VMLY&R’s success in leading cultural change across business and industry. It brings a unique transformation framework to market3, enabling companies to analyse, articulate and accelerate DE&I and cultural ambitions across their organisations.

It will also take a consultative role across the VMLY&R client portfolio and bring a deeper understanding of the multi-ethnic and LGBTQIA+ consumer4; and draw on expertise from award-winning campaigns such as The World Woman Foundation’s #SHESMYHERO and No7 Beauty Company’s We See You.

Led by Debbie Ellison, global chief digital officer, VMLY&R COMMERCE, the new offering includes a proprietary transformation framework, methodologies, and tools. It also brings together a team of leaders, all with DE&I and transformation expertise in business.

“Cultural and creative inclusion is key to creating more meaningful, personally and culturally relevant brand experiences.” Explains Debbie Ellison, Global Chief Digital Officer, VMLY&R COMMERCE.

She adds: “Our offering brings strategic consultancy and practical implementation support to help companies transform inside out, create greater engagement with employees and customers, drive business growth and ultimately positively impact across the communities they serve. This launch is also a further step to expanding our Inclusion Experience practice globally.”

“Inclusion is the 'new' imperative for driving business growth. It is the solution, not a problem to fix.  I firmly believe through the work that I see across our client portfolio of different industry sectors, it will be a major and sustainable competitive advantage that our WPP clients need.” Says Karen Blackett OBE, WPP UK Country Manager.

The Inclusion Experience UK team comprises Rachel Ayeh-Datey, Senior Analyst; Bonnie Boodram, MD, Content Operations; Jamie June Hill, Creative Inclusivity Director; Eleanor Lloyd-Malcolm, Consultancy Partner and Emmanuel Xirogiannis, Digital and Social Commerce Strategy Director.

The practice will leverage the VMLY&R network and work closely with Myron King, Global Practice Lead & Chief Integration Officer, who first introduced the practice in the US in 2021 – now a highly successful practice with clients including Target, Ford, Hallmark, L’Oréal and ADT.

From working with leading organisations to drive greater diversity in the creative industry, partnering with local schools, and launching its own programmes such as The Incubator (offering work experience to diverse young talent) VMLY&R has been on a sustained journey to champion effective DE&I initiatives.

The agency has also leveraged the Inclusion Experience framework to transform its business, mapping KPIs across eight pillars, including employee experience, corporate communications, tools, systems and methods, client relationships, recruitment and retention, professional development, and more.

This momentum has led to industry recognition in the UK with VMLY&R COMMERCE named Diversity & Inclusion Company of the Year 2021 by The Drum and VMLY&R network being awarded Best Place to Work and best Global Diversity and Inclusion Initiative by Campaign in 2022. Debbie’s leadership has also been recognised with Yahoo Finance EMpower Ethnic Minority Executive Role Model List 2022/2021/2020 and a Top Ten Inspirational Leader in 2021/ HSBC Ethnicity Awards.

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