Equality Street: our gender equality promise
I’m not sure when this first cropped up on my radar, but this year it feels especially important to Manifest. From our team of 27, 15 are women and we’ve always had a majority of women in the office (well, since we had enough people for there to be a majority of anything). So it frustrates me that gender equality has become such a huge issue in our industry, with a significant pay gap and far too few women in the boardroom according to the most recent research on both sides of the pond. At our annual Manifestival conference last year, I outlined our commitment to maintaining complete equality, and we introduced and updated some key policies to help protect that as the company continues to grow. I thought today is as good a day as any to share them. Why? We don’t want a medal or anything – quite the opposite – we are just constantly surprised to hear people say these policies are unusual. They shouldn’t be.
Our Associate Director (and soon-to-be mum) Jemma wrote a fantastic blog recently about how motherhood doesn’t need to negatively impact her career, and she briefly mentioned our parental leave policy as part of that – but here’s a bit more detail. We offer a great package for mums going on Maternity leave – from a monetary standpoint we’re up there with the best policies in the industry – and we have built a flexible back-to-work structure that will allow mums to gradually return to work at their own pace. That’s all great, but the element we introduced that is an even bigger break from the norm is that we offer full parental leave to fathers too. And both parents can take that leave at any point during the first three years of a child being born.
Why? There’s a lot of research to support the idea that in order to achieve equality in senior management positions, we don’t just need to get women back into the office, we need to get fathers back into the home. It’s a societal pressure that women should be the ones to stay at home and be the primary carer for children and this status quo is the crux of inequality. Consciously or not, those hiring for senior positions might think ‘is she going to leave to have children soon?’ Although we don’t think this would happen at Manifest, by giving men the same parental leave to both sexes then it eliminates the possibility of discrimination. In Scandinavia, parental leave equality is the norm and gender equality is nowhere near as big an issue.
Salary equality commitment. We are committed to a strict salary formula that correlates directly to someone’s contribution to the business – it’s a system that means we can guarantee no gender pay-gap in like-for-like positions or for like-for-like work. Indeed, we can guarantee zero discrimination, actually. We’re even considering making our salary formula public (as Buffer has done) as part of our goal to be the most transparent agency in the world… so watch this space.
Senior management representation. Our senior management team is made up of three men and four women, making it directly proportional to the overall makeup of the business and a great balance. Although this might fluctuate slightly at times as we grow, maintaining that ratio of senior representation is a key part of our business plan and one of our constant KPIs. Helen wrote a great blog recently about how Manifest cherishes her ‘lady balls’ and how she is inspired by the amazing women on our Executive Committee – check it out here.
Chief Happiness Officer. Our wonderful Chief Happiness Officer (CHO), Annie Griffin is responsible for making this the greatest place on Earth to work. Part of that challenge is to maintain zero discrimination throughout the business. Not that we think anyone at Manifest would be discriminatory, we can just rest easy that we have someone building our internal processes in a way that makes it impossible even if someone was to try. There are too many examples to go into here, so maybe it’s a separate blog post… but there is a surprising amount you can do with processes, from appraisals to recruitment, to ensure complete unadulterated fairness. And if you can do that, it’s important you do that.
Head of Diversity & Equality. Julian Obubo is one of our longest-standing team members, and he is also passionate about diversity and equality in business. We recently formalised his influence on helping us stay ahead of the curve in both areas by giving him an expanded internal role as Head of Diversity & Equality. He’ll be attending events and conferences that share the latest thinking, as well as speaking at events to inspire other businesses and help them learn from our experiences. Expect him to be blogging on all things diverse and equal very soon. I just apologise in advance for the overuse of Beyoncé references.
Basically, we want Manifest to be the first agency that doesn’t simply acknowledge equality as its responsibility, but builds it into the very fabric of the business. It’s in our DNA. These policies are just a few of the things we’re doing to make that happen. But if you have any ideas for how we can improve even further, please leave a comment and we’ll get right on it. Similarly, if you’re a business that wants to adopt any of these policies – great – just holler if you’d like any advice or to chat about the finer details.