Making the numbers count
March 8, 2023
Talent is the lifeblood of marketing. Brands need to meet their needs for a better lived experience if they want to attract and retain the very best. Ranjay Radhakrishnan, Chief Human Resources Officer at Reckitt, explains how the company is championing diversity and inclusion to make Reckitt a great place to work.
Inclusion is business critical. You cannot succeed today as a company if you are not responsible or if your culture does not embody the values that people cherish and seek. It is as simple as that.
People have a choice over where they work and for how long they stay. They are demanding a great, compelling lived experience. They care about what an organization stands for in society today. Because life is too short to work in an organization that cannot offer a great experience in line with one’s values.
At Reckitt, inclusion sits at the heart of our compass, and our strategy focuses on six areas: the work we do on Brands, Partnerships, Leadership, People, Procurement and Policies.
Leadership is critical because inclusion is core to the organization and therefore must be driven and led first by leaders and then owned by everyone. The first task of any leadership team is to deliver a day-to-day lived experience that meets their people’s demands. The work experience, or the lifestyle experience that you create for a colleague is going to be critical, and how inclusive you are as an organization is an exceptionally important element.
A key challenge in that process is leadership education and engagement in driving positive change. Almost all our senior leaders have now experienced our conscious inclusion program, learning what it takes from a leadership behavior perspective to build a sustainable, inclusive organization.
One of the most impactful elements is the “Stronger Together” conversations which emanated from our Global Inclusion Board, chaired by our CEO. These are company-wide sessions sponsored by leaders where team members listen to the stories of colleagues. It has been a key intervention that has really moved the needle for us, providing an open space for people to talk about their experiences and normalize certain conversations.
Recently we had a session focusing on mental health, with one colleague sharing how they felt empowered to speak about their issues because the line manager had created a safe environment. This understanding enabled them to flourish, demonstrating to the whole business how we lean in and help our colleagues.
Such efforts have created a powerful storytelling culture that allows colleagues to speak up.
Another leadership challenge is line leader variability. In delivering consistent and quality lived experience, the line leader plays a very important role. The narrower you can get the line leader variability, the more successful you are. So aligning our culture of inclusion is the red thread which unites the diversity of our leadership.
Internal and external challenges
There is clearly a practical challenge around data and how you gather it. It is something that a lot of organizations are looking to build. “If you tell us more about who you are, we can do more to build a better experience” is the main message of our data collection exercises. We’ve been reasonably successful so far, and we’ve got to keep doing it.
To gather additional insight, we leverage our global employee resource groups focusing on gender, race, disability and LGBTQ+, backed up by local ERG chapters that can address local priorities.
In Turkey, for example, they examined the daily language used and sought to make it more inclusive. To challenge social stereotypes, the team created an inclusive language dictionary to remove linguistic prejudices that people may not be conscious of.
But inclusion is not just an internal matter, it’s critical to our approach to brands and partnerships.
To make sure we select inclusive partners, our procurement team is now running pilots in South Africa and the US to start building our partner database and ensure that we get that right, making diversity and inclusion a critical lens of evaluation throughout our extended value chain.
We put the same emphasis internally on Diversity & Inclusion through our Marketing Academy capability programs. Representing our consumers is one of the core competencies that has been assigned to every single person with a marketing role at Reckitt.
As part of our marketing communications, every Reckitt brand chooses a UN Sustainable Development Goal with one simple rule: the brand purpose – the fundamental essence of why a brand does what it does – must be connected to a social or environmental issue. We believe that we can create positive societal impact and growth at the same time, even if the link might seem a stretch at first.
Take a brand such as Finish, which has committed to SDG 6, focused on clean water and sanitation. The brand, through its product and actions can meaningfully and measurably save water. If you’re in a water-scarce community, having a brand really advocate and champion a smarter way to do your dishes that results in saving millions of gallons of fresh water is critical to how we can impact communities that are disadvantaged.
In a similar spirit, Nurofen launched a brand fight to highlight the extent of the Gender Pain Gap. Its recent campaign, ‘See my pain’, is boosting awareness of the fact that women’s pain is not being taken seriously enough and that chronic pain sufferers are disproportionately women.
If there is one thing every brand organization should focus on more it’s people’s lived experience. Many organisations nowadays are obsessed with numbers, with statistics. Of course, measurement is important to ensure progress is happening, yet I would challenge that lived experience is as important, if not more, than numbers.
Counting the numbers matters, but so does making the numbers count. After all, talent is the lifeblood of marketing and brands need to meet their needs for a better lived experience if they want to attract and retain the very best.